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Religions and Rituals of the Asia-

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Mark Shelley

on 24 August 2011

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Transcript of Religions and Rituals of the Asia-

5 Tenets Of Islam


1. Testimony

The Shahadah, which is the basic creed of Islam that must be recited under oath with the specific statement: "'ašhadu 'al-lā ilāha illā-llāhu wa 'ašhadu 'anna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh", or "I testify that there is none worthy of worship except God and I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God." This testament is a foundation for all other beliefs and practices in Islam. Muslims must repeat the shahadah in prayer, and non-Muslims wishing to convert to Islam are required to recite the creed. 3. Fasting

Fasting, called "Sawm", from food and drink (among other things) must be performed from dawn to dusk during the month of Ramadhan. The fast is to encourage a feeling of nearness to God, and during it Muslims should express their gratitude for and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and think of the needy. 5. Pilgrimage

The pilgrimage, called the Hajj during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah in the city of Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it must make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime. Rituals of the Hajj include walking seven times around the Kaaba, touching the black stone if possible, walking or running seven times between Mount Safa and Mount Marwah, and symbolically stoning the Devil in Mina. 4. Alms-giving

"Zakāt" is giving a fixed portion of accumulated wealth by those who can afford it to help the poor or needy, and also to assist the spread of Islam. It is considered a religious obligation (as opposed to voluntary charity) that the well-off owe to the needy because their wealth is seen as a "trust from God's bounty". 2. Prayer

Ritual prayers, called Ṣalāh or Ṣalāt, must be performed five times a day. Salah is intended to focus the mind on God, and is seen as a personal communication with him that expresses gratitude and worship. Salah is compulsory but flexibility in the specifics is allowed depending on circumstances. The prayers are recited in the Arabic language, and consist of verses from the Qur'an.

A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims, who often refer to it by its Arabic name, masjid. Holy city of Mecca! Millions of Pilgrims come every year tomecca; a city in Saudi Arabia to complete the following ceremony A supplicating pilgrim at Masjid al-Haram, the mosque which was built around the Kaaba ("cube"), (the building at center). In this image of the Hajj from 2003, thousands of pilgrims are walking around the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham (Ibrahim). Pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: Each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Kaaba, the cube-shaped building which acts as the Muslim direction of prayer, runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, and throws stones in a ritual Stoning of the Devil. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha. A young German man makes his testimony to Allah Pilgrims must hit the large jamrah (wall) only with seven pebbles. On each of the following two days they must hit each of the three walls with seven pebbles, going in order from east to west. Thus at least 49 pebbles are needed for the ritual, more if some throws miss. A Ramadan calendar for children, very similar to our advent calendars' for christmas Hinduism is the predominant religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as Sanātana Dharma (a Sanskrit phrase meaning "the eternal law"). Among other practices and philosophies, Hinduism includes a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of "daily morality" based on the notion of karma and dharma. Hinduism grants a great degree of freedom of belief and worship. Also, concept of heresy is absent.

Heresy (from Greek , which originally meant "choice") is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. Dharma means Law or Natural Law (as in the natural order of things). In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender.

The idea of dharma as duty or propriety derives from an idea found in India's ancient legal and religious texts that there is a divinely instituted natural order of things and justice, social harmony and human happiness require that human beings discern and live in a manner appropriate to the requirements of that order. According to the various Indian religions, such as Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, beings that live in accordance with dharma proceed more quickly toward dharma yukam, moksha or nirvana (personal liberation).

The antonym of dharma is adharma meaning unnatural or immoral.

Dharma also refers to the teachings and doctrines of the founders of Buddhism. In Buddhist philosophy, dhamma/dharma is also the term for "phenomenon". Hinduism refers to a religious mainstream which evolved organically and spread over a large territory marked by significant ethnic and cultural diversity. Prominent themes in Hindu beliefs include (but are not restricted to), Dharma (ethics/duties), Samsāra (The continuing cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth), Karma (action and subsequent reaction), Moksha (liberation from samsara), and the various Yogas (paths or practices). Objectives of human life

Classical Hindu thought accepts the following objectives of human life, that which is sought as human purpose, aim, or end, is known as the puruṣārthas:

Dharma ("righteousness, ethikos")
Artha ("livelihood, wealth")
Kāma ("sensual pleasure")
Mokṣa ("liberation, freedom (from samsara)") Ramadhan
One of the largest customs of Islam is Ramadan
On the ninth month of the calendar, from dusk to dawn everyday you will fast for the entire day, meaning you will not eat, drink or engage in sexual matters during the day to show humility, patience and submissiveness to God. Mantras are invocations, praise and prayers that through their meaning, sound, and chanting style help a devotee focus the mind on holy thoughts or express devotion to God/the deities. Many devotees perform morning ablutions at the bank of a sacred river while chanting the Gayatri Mantra or Mahamrityunjaya mantras. Stoning of the Devil or stoning of the jamarat is part of the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Muslim pilgrims fling pebbles at three walls called jamarat in the city of Mina just east of Mecca. It is one of a series of ritual acts that must be performed in the Hajj. Yoga.

In whatever way a Hindu defines the goal of life, there are several methods (yogas) that sages have taught for reaching that goal. Texts dedicated to Yoga include the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and, as their philosophical and historical basis, the Upanishads. Paths that one can follow to achieve the spiritual goal of life (moksha, samadhi or nirvana) include:

Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion)
Karma Yoga (the path of right action)
Rāja Yoga (the path of meditation)
Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom) A priest peforms a blessing ceremony on the Ganges River. Shinto or Shintoism, also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the Japanese people. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in the 7th and 8th century. Still, these earliest Japanese writings do not refer to a unified "Shinto religion", but rather to disorganized folklore, history, and mythology The creation myth of Shinto is recorded in the ca. 712 Kojiki. It is a depiction of the events leading up to and including the creation of the Japanese Islands. There are many translations of the story with variations of complexity.

Izanagi-no-Mikoto (male) and Izanami-no-Mikoto (female) were called by all the myriad gods and asked to help each other to create a new land which was to become Japan.
They were given a spear with which they stirred the water, and when removed water dripped from the end, an island was created in the great nothingness.
They lived on this island, and created a palace and within was a large pole.
When they wished to bear offspring, they performed a ritual each rounding a pole, male to the left and female to the right, the female greeting the male first.
They had 2 children (islands) which turned out badly and they cast them out. They decided that the ritual had been done incorrectly the first time.
They repeated the ritual but according to the correct laws of nature, the male spoke first.
They then gave birth to the 8 perfect islands of the Japanese archipelago.
After the islands, they gave birth to the other Kami, Izanami-no-Mikoto dies and Izanagi-no-Mikoto tries to revive her.
His attempts to deny the laws of life and death have bad consequences.

The Japanese islands are to be considered a paradise as they were directly created by the gods for the Japanese people, and were ordained by the higher spirits to be created into the Japanese empire. Shinto is the fundamental connection between the power and beauty of nature (the land) and the Japanese people. It is the manifestation of a path to understanding the institution of divine power. Kami

Shinto teaches that everything contains a kami (神 "spiritual essence"?, commonly translated as god or spirit). Shinto's spirits are collectively called yaoyorozu no kami, an expression literally meaning "eight million kami", but interpreted as meaning "myriad", although it can be translated as "many Kami". There is a phonetic variation kamu and a similar word among Ainu kamui. There is an analog "mi-koto".

Kami are a difficult concept to translate as there is no direct similar construct in English. Kami is generally accepted to describe the innate supernatural force that is above the actions of man, the realm of the sacred, and is inclusive of gods, spirit figures, and human ancestors. All mythological creatures of the Japanese cultural tradition, of the Buddhistic tradition, Christian God, Hindu gods, Islamic Allah, various angels and demons of all faiths among others are considered Kami for the purpose of Shinto faith. Impurity
Shinto teaches that certain deeds create a kind of ritual impurity that one should want cleansed for one's own peace of mind and good fortune, not because impurity is wrong in and of itself. Wrong deeds are called "impurity" (穢れkegare), opposed to "purity" (清めkiyome). Normal days are called "day" (ke), and festive days are called "sunny" or simply "good" (hare).

Those killed without being shown gratitude for their sacrifice will hold a grudge (怨みurami) and become a powerful and evil kami that seeks revenge (aragami). Additionally, if anyone is injured on the grounds of a shrine, the area affected must be ritually purified Purification
Purification rites are a vital part of Shinto. They are done on a daily, weekly, seasonal, lunar, and annual basis. These rituals are the lifeblood of the practice of Shinto. Such ceremonies have also been adapted to modern life. New buildings made in Japan are frequently blessed by a Shinto priest called kannushi during the groundbreaking ceremony (Jichinsai 地鎮祭), and many cars made in Japan have been blessed as part of the assembly process. Moreover, many Japanese businesses built outside Japan have had ceremonies performed by a Shinto priest, with occasionally an annual visitation by the priest to re-purify. Amulets and protective items

Ema are small wooden plaques that wishes or desires are written upon and left at a place in the shrine grounds so that one may get a wish or desire fulfilled. They have a picture on them and are frequently associated with the larger Shrines.

Ofuda are a talisman issued by a Shinto shrine, made of paper, wood, or metal, inscribed with the name of a kami and used for protection in the home. They are typically placed in the home at a kamidana. They are also renewed annually.

Omamori are personal protection amulets, issued by a shrine and sold to individuals with a specific intent in mind. Frequently for warding off bad luck and for better health, more recently there are also ones for good driving, good business, and school success. Their history lies with Buddhist practices of selling amulets.

Omikuji are a paper lot on which a personal fortune is written.

Daruma a round paper doll depicting the Indian monk Bodi-dharma. A wish for success is made and one eye is painted on, when the goal is accomplished, the other eye is added. This is a Buddhist practice but very frequently you will also find them at Shrines as well. These dolls are very common.

Less popular protective items include: Dorei are earthenware bells used to pray for good fortune, frequently in the shape of the animal representative of the astrological calendar.Hamaya a symbolic arrow for the fight against evil and bad luck. Inuhariko a paper doll of a dog used to bless and provide a good birth. Kagura is the ancient Shinto ritual dance of shamanic origin. The word "kagura" is thought to be a contracted form of kami no kura or "seat of the kami" or the "site where the kami is received."[10] There is a mythological tale of how kagura dance came into existence. The sun goddess Amaterasu became very upset at her brother so she hid in a cave. All of the other gods and goddesses were concerned and wanted her to come outside. Ame-no-uzeme began to dance and create a noisy commotion in order to entice Amaterasu to come out. The kami (gods) tricked Amaterasu by telling her there was a better sun goddess in the heavens. Amaterasu came out and light returned to the universe. Miko kagura is the oldest type of kagura and is danced by women in Shinto shrines and during folk festivals. The ancient miko were shamanesses, but are now considered priestesses in the service of the Shinto Shrines. Miko kagura originally was a shamanic trance dance, but later, it became an art and was interpreted as a prayer dance. It is performed in many of the larger Shinto shrines and is characterized by slow, elegant, circular movements, by emphasis on the four directions and by the central use of torimono (objects dancers carry in their hands), especially the fan and bells. Ise kagura is a collective name for rituals that are based upon the yudate (boiling water rites of Shugendō origin) ritual. It includes miko dances as well as dancing of the torimono type. The kami are believed to be present in the pot of boiling water, so the dancers dip their torimono in the water and sprinkle it in the four directions and on the observers for purification and blessing. Zumo kagura is centered in the Sada shrine of Izumo, Shimane prefecture. It has two types: torimono ma, unmasked dances that include held objects, and shinno (sacred No), dramatic masked dances based on myths. Izumo kagura appears to be the most popular type of kagura Shishi kagura also known as the Shugen-No tradition, uses the dance of a shishi (lion or mountain animal) mask as the image and presence of the deity. It includes the Ise daikagura group and the yamabushi kagura and bangaku groups of the Tohoku area (Northeastern Japan). Ise daikagura employs a large red Chinese type of lion head which can move its ears. The lion head of the yamabushi kagura schools is black and can click its teeth. Unlike other kagura types in which the kami appear only temporarily, during the shishi kagura the kami is constantly present in the shishi head mask. During the Edo period, the lion dances became showy and acrobatic losing its touch with spirituality. However, the yamabushi kagura tradition has retained its ritualistic and religious nature. TIBET Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of many possible forms of sentient life, each running from conception to death. Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism and Christianity. According to Buddhism there ultimately is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe. Rebirth in subsequent existences must be understood as the continuation of a dynamic, ever-changing process of "dependent arising" ("pratītyasamutpāda") determined by the laws of cause and effect (karma) rather than that of one being, transmigrating or incarnating from one existence to the next. Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha ( "the awakened one"). The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end ignorance (Avijjā) of dependent origination, thus escaping what is seen as a cycle of suffering and rebirth. The Four Noble Truths

According to the Āgamas of other early Buddhist schools, the Four Noble Truths were the first teaching of Gautama Buddha after attaining Nirvana. They are sometimes considered to contain the essence of the Buddha's teachings:

1. Life as we know it ultimately is or leads to suffering/uneasiness (dukkha) in one way or another.
2. Suffering is caused by craving. This is often expressed as a deluded clinging to a certain sense of existence, to selfhood, or to the things or phenomena that we consider the cause of happiness or unhappiness. Craving also has its negative aspect, i.e. one craves that a certain state of affairs not exist.
3. Suffering ends when craving ends. This is achieved by eliminating delusion, thereby reaching a liberated state of Enlightenment (bodhi);
4. Reaching this liberated state is achieved by following the path laid out by the Buddha.

We must let go of the material and physical world to attain nirvana, or true happiness. In the teaching of the Buddha, all of us will pass away eventually as a part in the natural process of birth, old-age and death and that we should always keep in mind the impermanence of life.

To Buddhism, however, death is not the end of life, it is merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life, but our spirit will still remain and seek out through the need of attachment, attachment to a new body and new life. Where they will be born is a result of the past and the accumulation of positive and negative action, and the resultant karma (cause and effect) is a result of ones past actions.

This would lead to the person to be reborn in one of 6 realms which are; heaven, human beings, Asura, hungry ghost, animal and hell. Realms, according to the severity of ones karmic actions, Buddhists believe however, none of these places are permanent and one does not remain in any place indefinitely.

So we can say that in Buddhism, life does not end, merely goes on in other forms that are the result of accumulated karma. Buddhism is a belief that emphasizes the impermanence of lives, including all those beyond the present life. With this in mind we should not fear death as it will lead to rebirth. The Sand Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of mandalas made from colored sand. A sand mandala is ritualistically destroyed once it has been completed and its accompanying ceremonies and viewing are finished to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life. Historically, the mandala was not created with natural, dyed sand, but granules of crushed coloured stone. In modern times, plain white stones are ground down and dyed with opaque inks to achieve the same effect. Before laying down the sand, the monks assigned to the project will draw the geometric measurements associated with the mandala. The sand granules are then applied using small tubes, funnels, and scrapers, until the desired pattern over-top is achieved. Sand mandalas traditionally take several weeks to build, due to the large amount of work involved in laying down the sand in such intricate detail. It is common that a team of monks will work together on the project, creating one section of the diagram at a time, usually working from the center outwards.

The Kalachakra Mandala for instance, contains 722 deities portrayed within the complex structure and geometry of the mandala itself. Other smaller mandalas, like the one attributed to Vajrabhairava contain sufficiently fewer deities and require less geometry, but still take several days to complete. Fushimi Inari Naiku Shrine The cycle of impermenance The Kalachakra Mandala Ritual destruction

The destruction of a sand mandala is also highly ceremonial. Even the deity syllables are removed in a specific order, along with the rest of the geometry until at last the mandala has been dismantled. The sand is collected in a jar which is then wrapped in silk and transported to a river (or any place with moving water), where it is released back into nature. For this reason, the materials keeping with the symbolism are never used twice. Indonesia is one of the world's largest muslim nations, though undoubtedly Mecca in Saudi Arabia is the most important city in the Muslim world. Sake Offerings Onamori Offerings of food and sake Home Shrine
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