Ritual Essays

Being Religious Is not a Matter of Subscribing to Doctrines

In oral/first traditions, being religious entails much more than simply subscribing to a set of doctrines.  It is instead a world view, a way of ordering society, and a means of reckoning with the natural and supernatural.  It deals with the unseen and, in the absence of science, does not create boundaries between natural phenomena and the divine or supernatural.  According to Walter Burkert, “Religion is manifest in actions and attitudes that do not fulfill immediate practical functions.  What is…

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Rite of Passage

Every person begins their life with a birth and ends it with death. In our lives, there will be other rites of passage that will still have great importance; celebrating birthdays, graduation from school or collage, getting jobs, marriage, having kids, transition from child to adult and even divorce. Rites of passage help many people feel part of their respective society. Making their lives sweeter or bitter. Easier or harder. Better or more difficult. Their changes are huge, but not…

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Born to Die – Vodou Ritual and the Importance of Gede

At the heart vodou practitioners believe, “People are born to die” (375). The vision of death is ever present in their life and it is what gives them energy. Haitians search for balance in their existence, but balance in vodou is a dynamic force of living with conflicting ideals harmoniously. In the face of such poverty, disease and death in their society this idea has become necessary to survival. This chapter entitled Gede, focused on Alourdes, a vodou priestess. Alourdes…

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Nacirema Tribe

Over 50 years ago, Horace Miner published a study on the Nacirema Tribe. In the study he talked about their body rituals, and revealed to the world every strange ritual these people had. After reading this study, I decided to do one for myself. So I visited the Nacirema tribe. The things I observed still puzzles me. I noticed that everyday around the same time at daybreak, young Naciremas are awaken by an unusual noise coming from some sort of…

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Ethnomedicine

Since the beginning of man, there have been ailments that have plagued the human race without concern of who it is inflicting or why they occur. These ailments had to have been combated by some sort of medicine by each culture and their remedies must have been plenty. The plethora of different kinds of medicines and remedies to these ailments among the different kinds of cultures is what we, Team Bloodnut, define as ethnomedicine. Many cultures throughout the world practice…

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Jain Man Fasts to Death

A 76 year old Indian man died of starvation that is called “santhara”. It is an old practice in Jainism where a person fasts for a number of days and is believed to help the person achieve salvation. Some people are still not amenable to this practice as they believe that this is a sort of suicide. On the other hand, Amar Chand, the man who died, believed that it would help him cleanse his soul as he has been…

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The Elusive Nacirema Tribe

In the everyday life of the perceived “normal” individual, rituals and rites performed by individuals as part of a different culture might seem harsh, cruel or even barbaric. After my first read of “Body Ritual among the Nacirema”, that is how I perceived their daily way of life. They believe in magic potions, seeking pain from the “holy – mouth – men” a couple of times a year, and the men and women perform acts that seem to contradict one…

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The Theme of Subalternity in Mahasweta Devi’s Rudali

Mahaswetha Devi was born in 1926 in Dhaka, in a privileged middle-class Bengali family. She is an extraordinary woman who has written and fought for the marginalized tirelessly for the past six decades. she is a culmination of an activist and a writer working for the betterment of subaltern in her own way of protesting against the atrocities on down trodden by the main stream society. Mahaswetha Devi’s literary oeuvre comprises stories around contemporary social and political realities, a majority…

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