The two best known religious actions are prayer and sacrifice. The most general religious action is prayer. It can be done quietly by a person all alone, but people can also pray in groups using songs. Sacrifice is also a widely spread religious action. Prayer and sacrifice often form the basis of other, more complicated religious actions like pilgrimage, processions, or consulting an oracle. Many rituals are connected to a certain purpose, like initiation, ritual purification and preparation for an important happening or task. Among these are also the so-called rituals of transition, which occur at important moments of the human life cycle, like birth, adulthood/marriage, sickness and death. A special religious action is spirit possession and religious ecstasy. Religious specialists, such as priests, vicars, rabbis, imams and pandits are involved in many religious actions.
A religious avoidance is when a person desists from something or from some action for religious reasons. It can be food or drink that one does not touch because of one's religion for some time (fast). This abstinence can also be for a longer time. Some people do not have sex (celibacy). Or one avoids contact with blood, or dead animals. Well known examples are: Jews and Muslims do not eat pork; the celibacy of Catholic priests; the purity rules of Hinduism and Judaism.
These avoidances, or 'taboos', are often about food and drink.
Religious avoidances are often not easily recognisable as (part of) religious behaviour. When asked, the believers often do not motivate this kind of behaviour explicitly as religious but say the avoidance for health reasons, ethical reasons, or because it is hygienic.
Religious behaviour is seldom studied for itself. When it is given attention at all, it is usually studied as an illustration of the religious images, like in comparative religion and cultural anthropology, or as part of the study of man in the social sciences.
Atonement (also atoning, to atone) is the concept of a person taking action to correct previous wrongdoing on their part, either through direct action to undo the consequences of that act, equivalent action to do good for others, or some other expression of feelings of remorse. From the Middle English attone or atoon (“agreed”, literally “at one”), now meaning to be "at one", in harmony, with someone. Atonement "is closely associated to forgiveness, reconciliation, sorrow, remorse, repentance, reparation, and guilt". It can be seen as a necessary step on a path to redemption.Chosen people
Throughout history, various groups of people have considered themselves to be chosen people by a deity for a purpose, such as to act as the deity's agent on earth. In monotheistic faiths references to God are used in constructs such as "God's Chosen People". The phenomenon of a "chosen people" is particularly common in the
Israelite tradition, where it originally referred to the Israelites—in fact Jews refer to this as a burden to spread the message of one God. Some claims of chosenness are based on parallel claims of Israelite ancestry, as is the case for the Christian Identity and Black Hebrew sects—both which claim themselves (and not Jews) to be the "true Israel". Others claim a "spiritual" chosenness, including most Christian denominations, who traditionally believe the church has replaced Israel as the People of God.
Anthropologists commonly regard claims of chosenness as a form of ethnocentrism.Consecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word consecration literally means "association with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups. The origin of the word comes from the Latin stem consecrat, which means dedicated, devoted, and sacred. A synonym for to consecrate is to sanctify; a distinct antonym is to desecrate.Cult (religious practice)
Cult is literally the "care" (Latin cultus) owed to deities and to temples, shrines, or churches. Cult is embodied in ritual and ceremony. Its present or former presence is made concrete in temples, shrines and churches, and cult images, including cult images and votive offerings at votive sites.
In the specific context of the Greek hero cult, Carla Antonaccio wrote,
The term cult identifies a pattern of ritual behavior in connection with specific objects, within a framework of spatial and temporal coordinates. Rituals would include (but not necessarily be limited to) prayer, sacrifice, votive offerings, competitions, processions and construction of monuments. Some degree of recurrence in place and repetition over time of ritual action is necessary for a cult to be enacted, to be practiced.Hierophany
A hierophany is a manifestation of the sacred. The word is a formation of the Greek adjective hieros (Greek: ἱερός; sacred/holy) and the verb phainein (φαίνειν; to reveal / to bring to light).Importance of religion by country
This page charts a list of countries by importance of religion.Numinous
Numinous () is a concept derived from the Latin numen meaning "arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring". The term was popularized by the German theologian Rudolf Otto in his influential 1917 German book Das Heilige, which appeared in English as The Idea of the Holy in 1923.Paleolithic religion
Paleolithic religions are a set of spiritual beliefs thought to have appeared during the Paleolithic time period. Paleoanthropologists Andre Leroi-Gourhan and Annette Michelson believe Religious behaviour emerged by the Upper Paleolithic, before 30,000 years ago at the latest, but behavioral patterns such as burial rites that one might characterize as religious — or as ancestral to religious behaviour — reach back into the Middle Paleolithic, as early as 300,000 years ago, coinciding with the first appearance of Homo neanderthalensis and possibly Homo naledi.
There are suggested cases for the first appearance of religious or spiritual experience in the Lower Paleolithic (significantly earlier than 300,000 years ago, pre-Homo sapiens), but these remain controversial and have limited support.Piety
In spiritual terminology, piety is a virtue which may include religious devotion, spirituality, or a mixture of both. A common element in most conceptions of piety is humility.Pious fraud
Pious fraud is used to describe fraud in religion or medicine. A pious fraud can be counterfeiting a miracle or falsely attributing a sacred text to a biblical figure due to the belief that the "end justifies the means", in this case the end of increasing faith by whatever means available.Religious ecstasy
Religious ecstasy is a type of altered state of consciousness characterized by greatly reduced external awareness and expanded interior mental and spiritual awareness, frequently accompanied by visions and emotional (and sometimes physical) euphoria.
Although the experience is usually brief in time, there are records of such experiences lasting several days or even more, and of recurring experiences of ecstasy during one's lifetime.
In Sufism, the term is referred to as wajad and the experience is referred to as either jazbah (jadbah o jedbah for Maghreb) or majzoobiyat.Religious fanaticism
Religious fanaticism is uncritical zeal or with an obsessive enthusiasm related to one's own, or one's group's, devotion to a religion – a form of human fanaticism which could otherwise be expressed in one's other involvements and participation, including employment, role, and partisan affinities.Religious name
A religious name is a type of given name bestowed for a religious purpose, and which is generally used in religious contexts. Different types of religious names may be in use among clergy of a religion, as well in some cases among the laity.Religious tourism
Religious tourism, also commonly referred to as faith tourism, is a type of tourism, where people travel individually or in groups for pilgrimage, missionary, or leisure (fellowship) purposes.
The world's largest form of mass religious tourism takes place in India at the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage, which attracts over 100 million pilgrims. North American religious tourists comprise an estimated $10 billion of the industry.Religious vows
Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices, and views.
In the Buddhist tradition, in particular within the Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition, many different kinds of religious vows are taken by the lay community as well as by the monastic community, as they progress along the path of their practice. In the monastic tradition of all schools of Buddhism the Vinaya expounds the vows of the fully ordained Nuns and Monks.
In the Christian tradition, such public vows are made by the religious – cenobitic and eremitic – of the Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, and Eastern Orthodox Churches, whereby they confirm their public profession of the Evangelical Counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience or Benedictine equivalent. The vows are regarded as the individual's free response to a call by God to follow Jesus Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit in a particular form of religious living. A person who lives a religious life according to vows they have made is called a votary or a votarist. The religious vow, being a public vow, is binding in Church law. One of its effects is that the person making it ceases to be free to marry. In the Catholic Church, by joining the consecrated life, one does not become a member of the hierarchy but becomes a member of a state of life which is neither clerical nor lay, the consecrated state. Nevertheless, the members of the religious orders and those hermits who are in Holy Orders are members of the hierarchy.Self-flagellation
Self-flagellation is the act of hitting oneself with a whip as part of a religious ritual.Shroud
Shroud usually refers to an item, such as a cloth, that covers or protects some other object. The term is most often used in reference to burial sheets, mound shroud, grave clothes, winding-cloths or winding-sheets, such as the famous Shroud of Turin or Tachrichim (burial shrouds) that Jews are dressed in for burial. Traditionally, mound shrouds are made of white cotton, wool or linen, though any material can be used so long as it is made of natural fibre. Intermixture of two or more such fibres is forbidden, a proscription that ultimately derives from the Torah, viz., Deut. 22:11.
A traditional Orthodox Jewish shroud consists of a tunic; a hood; pants that are extra-long and sewn shut at the bottom, so that separate foot coverings are not required; and a belt, which is tied in a knot shaped like the Hebrew letter shin, mnemonic of one of God's names, Shaddai. Early shrouds incorporated a cloth, the sudarium, that covered the face, as depicted in traditional artistic representations of the entombed Jesus or His friend, Lazarus (John 11, q.v.). An especially pious man may next be enwrapped in either his kittel or his tallit, one tassel of which is defaced to render the garment ritually unfit, symbolizing the fact that the decedent is free from the stringent requirements of the 613 mitzvot (commandments). The shrouded body is wrapped in a winding sheet, termed a sovev in Hebrew (a cognate of svivon, the spinning Hanukkah toy that is familiar under its Yiddish name, dreidel), before being placed either in a plain coffin of soft wood (where required by governing health codes) or directly in the earth. Croesus-rich or dirt-poor, every Orthodox Jew is dressed to face the Almighty on the same terms.
The Early Christian Church also strongly encouraged the use of winding-sheets, except for monarchs and bishops. The rich were wrapped in cerecloths, which are fine fabrics soaked or painted in wax to hold the fabric close to the flesh. An account of the opening of the coffin of Edward I says that the "innermost covering seems to have been a very fine linen cerecloth, dressed close to every part of the body". Their use was general until at least the Renaissance – clothes were very expensive, and they had the advantage that a good set of clothes was not lost to the family.
In Europe in the Middle Ages, coarse linen shrouds were used to bury most poor without a coffin. In poetry shrouds have been described as of sable, and they were later embroidered in black, becoming more elaborate and cut like shirts or shifts. Orthodox Christians still use a burial shroud, usually decorated with a cross and the Trisagion. The special shroud that is used during the Orthodox Holy Week services is called an Epitaphios. Some Catholics also use the burial shroud particularly the Eastern Catholics and traditionalist Roman Catholics.
Muslims as well use burial shrouds that are made of white cotton or linen. The Burying in Woollen Acts 1666-80 in England were meant to support the production of woollen cloth.Spiritual direction
Spiritual direction is the practice of being with people as they attempt to deepen their relationship with the divine, or to learn and grow in their own personal spirituality. The person seeking direction shares stories of his or her encounters of the divine, or how he or she is cultivating a life attuned to spiritual things. The director listens and asks questions to assist the directee in his or her process of reflection and spiritual growth. Spiritual direction advocates claim that it develops a deeper awareness with the spiritual aspect of being human, and that it is not psychotherapy, counseling, or financial planning.Testimony
In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter.