Elements of Religious Traditions
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Religion is part and parcel of humanity. It may be defined as beliefs about nature, and explanations on how the universe came into existence, involving moral codes to guide human life. Religious traditions are called so since they existed from the time of goddesses and gods of a certain religion. The common elements in most religions include central myths, a belief system, ethics rituals, the community, material expression, emotional experiences and sacredness (Zuckerman, 2003). Many religions believe in gods or at least one God. Stories, texts and myths define the identity of the believers and give them access to the Devine, and explain how they came into existence.
Different religions have stories and myths that explain the creation of the universe, though most of them believe in the existence of one God, the creator of heaven and earth. Christianity has explanations illustrated in the Bible. The Bible guides Christian values and help Christians understand religious traditions better. They believe that the world was created by one God in six days and he rested on the seventh day. This explains why such a day is set aside for worship. Holidays are celebrated with specific reasons on specified days and event (Sharot 2001). The Quran is a religious book among the Islam religion, with laws, stories, myths and traditions that guide Muslim worship.
Religions have diverse times for sacred events to worship or communicate with their supreme being also to celebrate religious holidays, to pray, meditate, or perform a ritual in a certain ceremony (Jordan 2007). Sacredness is a devotion of an individual’s heart and is not limited to any amount of time in one’s life. Critical issues in religions are important in looking at the stories, myths and texts and how they function in religions. They unite believers through doctrines passed orally or in records to explain how the world was created. In Japan, the Shinto religion believes in the origin of Japanese island from stirring the floor of the ocean with a trident from the space. This is per the Izanami and Izanagi divines.
Religious practices are distinguished. In Islam, the Quran describes the five pillars practiced as early as Mohammed’s time. They include pilgrimage (hajj), profession of faith (shahada), fasting (sawm), alms giving (zakat), and prayer (salat). The pillars are the rituals in Islam considered being central in worship of Allah. Prayers are performed at specific times of the day (Sharot, 2001).
Religious traditions are organized in various ways with leadership strictly determined by the systems of beliefs of the community. In the Hindu religion’s caste system, one does not change the case in which he or she was born with a high probability of being born in a higher caste come the next reincarnation, meaning that priesthood in Hindu is hereditary. Sannyasa, a monastic order draws members from Brahman caste. Asacharya is another category of Hindu religious leaders who are personality divine teachers to interpret and assist believers in understanding scriptures. All the leaders in this community are responsible for leading a holy life to be emulated by believers and the individuals adapt an upright life (Zuckerman, 2003).
The Igbo community marks several religious ceremonies. One of the rites of passage is the Chiamaka (Sharot 2001). Traditionally, a night just before the event, the celebrants who are young girls gathers to be taught by older women on private issues in life. During initiation, Out Umunne fathers spent the night with male initiates, where the youths learned via empowerment as opposed to fear. Teenagers are told of what is expected in the Igbo community such as leadership, teamwork, responsibilities and moral values of life.
The vision quest is a ritual in Native America which marked the transition of youngsters from childhood to adult hood. In South America, some communities limited guardian spirits and vision quests to shamans who are religious personages having powers of psychic transformation and healing (Jordan. 2007). Proceedings are carried on by religious specialists with the quest involving isolation for a few days with prayers and fasting. The initiate was to have a dream or a vision where a spirit being has to appear. He goes back home and find help in interpretation by specialists. Visual quests were practiced by ordinary people who sought advice by shamans and great prophets.