Water and religion

Water is considered a purifier in most religions.

Hindu water ritual
A Hindu ablution as practiced in Tamil Nadu

Holy water

Some faiths use water especially prepared for religious purposes (holy water in most Christian denominations, amrita in Sikhism and Hinduism). Many religions also consider particular sources or bodies of water to be sacred or at least auspicious; examples include Lourdes in Roman Catholicism, the Jordan River (at least symbolically) in some Christian churches, the Zamzam Well in Islam and the River Ganges (among many others) in Hinduism.

Ritual washing

Faiths that incorporate ritual washing (ablution) include Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, Shinto, Taoism, and the Rastafari movement. Immersion (or aspersion or affusion) of a person in water is a central sacrament of Christianity (where it is called baptism); it is also a part of the practice of other religions, including Judaism (mikvah) and Sikhism (Amrit Sanskar). In addition, a ritual bath in pure water is performed for the dead in many religions including Judaism and Islam. In Islam, the five daily prayers can be done in most cases (see Tayammum) after completing washing certain parts of the body using clean water (wudu). In Shinto, water is used in almost all rituals to cleanse a person or an area (e.g., in the ritual of misogi).

Immersion of deities

In Hinduism, statues of Durga and Ganesh are immersed in rivers at the final stages of the festivals Durga Puja and Ganesh Chaturthi respectively.[1]

In Christianity the baptism of Jesus is an important moment in Christian theology and is the third most important feast of the Church, following Easter and Pentecost. Its feast, called Epiphany or Theophany, is celebrated on January 6.[2]

Water deities

Water deities are usually a focus of worship at specific springs or holy wells, but there are also more abstract ocean deities, and deities representing "water" as an abstract element, such as Aban in Zoroastrianism.

Example for local tutelary water deities include Celtic Sulis, worshipped at the thermal spring at Bath, or Ganges in Hinduism, personified as a goddess. The Hindu goddess Saraswati originated as a personification of the Saraswati River in the Rigveda, but became a more abstract deity of wisdom in Hinduism. African examples include the Yoruba river goddess Oshun, the Igbo lake goddess Ogbuide (Uhammiri), the Igbo river goddess Idemili and Agulu Lake (Achebe).

See also

References

  1. ^ Sehgal, Sunil (1999). Encyclopaedia of hinduism: (R - S)., Volume 4. New Delhi, India: Sarup & Sons. pp. 1082, 1087. ISBN 81-7625-064-3.
  2. ^ "The Theophany of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ". Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  • Sabine Jell-Bahlsen, The Water Goddess in Igbo Cosmology; Ogbuide of Oguta Lake. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2008.
  • Robin Horton, "African Traditional Thought and Western Science." Africa (37) 1967.
  • Judith Gleason, Oya. In Praise of an African Goddess. New York: Harper and Collins, 1987.
  • Badejo, Deirdre. Osun Seegesi; The Elegant Deity of Wealth, Power and Femininity. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1996.

Further reading

2006 Mumbai sweet seawater incident

The 2006 Mumbai "sweet" seawater incident was a strange phenomenon during which residents of Mumbai claimed that the water at Mahim Creek had suddenly turned sweet. Within hours, residents of Gujarat claimed that seawater at Teethal beach had turned sweet as well. This caused a mass hysteria among people who started coming in large numbers to drink the sea water.

Aban

Apas (, Avestan: āpas) is the Avestan language term for "the waters", which, in its innumerable aggregate states, is represented by the Apas, the hypostases of the waters.

Āb (plural Ābān) is the Middle Persian-language form.

Affusion

Affusion (la. affusio) is a method of baptism where water is poured on the head of the person being baptized. The word "affusion" comes from the Latin affusio, meaning "to pour on". Affusion is one of four methods of baptism used by Christians, which also include total submersion baptism, partial immersion baptism, and aspersion or sprinkling.Christian denominations which baptize by affusion do not deny the legitimacy of baptizing by submersion or immersion; rather, they consider that affusion is a sufficient, if not necessarily preferable, method of baptism. Affusion and aspersion tend to be practiced by Christian denominations that also practice infant baptism. This may be due to the practical difficulties of totally immersing an infant underwater. However, Eastern Orthodox and some Roman Catholics practice infant immersion. Amish, Old Order Mennonites, and Conservative Mennonites still practice baptism by pouring.

Ap (water)

Ap (áp-) is the Vedic Sanskrit term for "water", which in Classical Sanskrit only occurs in the plural āpas (sometimes re-analysed as a thematic singular, āpa-), whence Hindi āp. The term is from PIE hxap "water".

The Indo-Iranian word also survives as the Persian word for water, āb, e.g. in Punjab (from panj-āb "five waters"). In archaic ablauting contractions, the laryngeal of the PIE root remains visible in Vedic Sanskrit, e.g. pratīpa- "against the current", from *proti-hxp-o-. In Tamil, Ap means water, and has references in poetry.

In the Rigveda, several hymns are dedicated to "the waters" (āpas): 7.49, 10.9, 10.30, 10.47. In the oldest of these, 7.49, the waters are connected with the drought of Indra. Agni, the god of fire, has a close association with water and is often referred to as Apām Napāt "offspring of the waters". In Vedic astrology, the female deity Apah is the presiding deity of the Purva Ashadha asterism, meaning "first of the aṣāḍhā", with aṣāḍhā "the invincible one" being the name of the greater constellation.

In Hindu philosophy, the term refers to water as an element, one of the Panchamahabhuta, or "five great elements". In Hinduism, it is also the name of the deva Varuna a personification of water, one of the Vasus in most later Puranic lists.

Aspersion

Aspersion (la. aspergere/aspersio), in a religious context, is the act of sprinkling with water, especially holy water. Aspersion is a method used in baptism as an alternative to immersion or affusion. The word is formed of the Latin aspergere, 'to sprinkle', of ad, 'to', and spargo, 'I scatter' (Ezekiel 36:25-26, 1 Corinthians 10:2, cf. Psalm 77:16-20).

In addition, aspersion is performed as part of certain rites to remind people of their baptism, such as the renewal of baptismal vows performed by the Roman Catholic Church on Easter.

Cosmic ocean

A cosmic ocean or celestial river is a mythological motif found in the mythology of many cultures and civilizations, representing the world or cosmos as enveloped by primordial waters.

In creation myths, the primordial waters are often represented as originally having filled the entire universe, being the first source of the gods cosmos with the act of creation corresponding to the establishment of an inhabitable space separate from the enveloping waters.Frāxkard (Middle Persian: plʾhwklt‎, Avestan: Vourukaša; also called Warkaš in Middle Persian) is the name of the cosmic ocean.In the first creation story in the Bible, there is only earth and water in a disorganized state: "Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters." (...). (Genesis 1:2.) The world is also created as a space inside of the water, and is hence surrounded of it, "And God saith, `Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' " (Genesis 1:6).

Foot washing

Maundy (from the Vulgate of John 13:34 mandatum meaning "command"), or the Washing of the Feet, is a religious rite observed by various Christian denominations. The name is taken from the first few Latin words sung at the ceremony of the washing of the feet, "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("I give you a new commandment, That ye love one another as I have loved you") (John 13:34), and from the Latin form of the commandment of Christ that we should imitate His loving humility in the washing of the feet (John 13:14–17). The term mandatum (maundy), therefore, was applied to the rite of foot-washing on this day of the Christian Holy Week called Maundy Thursday.

John 13:1–17 recounts Jesus' performance of this act. In verses 13:14–17, He instructs His disciples:

If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Many denominations (including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Mennonites, and Catholics) therefore observe the liturgical washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday of Holy Week. Moreover, for some denominations, foot-washing was an example, a pattern. Many groups throughout Church history and many modern denominations have practiced foot washing as a church ordinance including Adventists, Anabaptists, Baptists, Free Will Baptists, and Pentecostals.

Holy water

Holy water is water that has been blessed by a member of the clergy or a religious figure. The use for cleansing prior to a baptism and spiritual cleansing is common in several religions, from Christianity to Sikhism. The use of holy water as a sacramental for protection against evil is common among Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Christians.

Jesus walking on water

Jesus walking on water is one of the miracles of Jesus recounted in the New Testament. There are accounts of this event in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John, but is not included in the Gospel of Luke.

This story, following the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, tells how Jesus sent the disciples by ship back to the "other side" of the Sea of Galilee (the western side) while he remained behind, alone, to pray. Night fell and the sea arose as the ship became caught in a wind storm. After rowing against the wind for most of the night, the disciples saw Jesus walking on the sea. They were frightened, thinking they were seeing a spirit, but when Jesus told them not to be afraid, they were reassured. After Jesus entered the ship, the wind ceased, and they arrived at land.

According to the version in the Gospel of Matthew, Peter walked on the water towards Jesus, but he became afraid and began to sink, so Jesus rescued him.

Lourdes water

Lourdes water is water which flows from a spring in the Grotto of Massabielle in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, France. The location of the spring was described to Bernadette Soubirous by an apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes on 25 February 1858. Since that time, many thousands of pilgrims to Lourdes have followed the instruction of Our Lady of Lourdes to "drink at the spring and bathe in it". Lourdes water is considered non-liturgical holy water.

Although never formally encouraged by the Church, Lourdes water has become a focus of devotion to the Virgin Mary at Lourdes. Since the supposed apparitions, many people have claimed to have been cured by drinking or bathing in it, and the Lourdes authorities provide it free of charge to any who ask for it.

Marriage at Cana

The transformation of water into wine at the Marriage at Cana or Wedding at Cana is the first miracle attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John. In the Gospel account, Jesus, his mother and his disciples are invited to a wedding, and when the wine runs out, Jesus delivers a sign of his glory by turning water into wine.

The location of Cana has been subject to the debate of Christ among biblical scholars and archeologists; several villages in Galilee are possible candidates.

Meribah

Meribah or "Mirabah" (Hebrew: מְרִיבָה‎) is one of the locations which the Torah identifies as having been travelled through by the Israelites, during the Exodus, although the continuous list of visited stations in the Book of Numbers does not mention it. In the Book of Exodus, Meribah is mentioned at the same time as Massah, in a context which suggests that Massah is the same location as Meribah, but other biblical mentions of Massah and Meribah, such as that in the Blessing of Moses, seem to imply that they are distinct.

Ritual washing in Judaism

In Judaism, ritual washing, or ablution, takes two main forms. A tevilah (טְבִילָה) is a full body immersion in a mikveh, and a netilat yadayim which is the washing of the hands with a cup (see Handwashing in Judaism).

References to ritual washing are found in the Hebrew Bible, and are elaborated in the Mishnah and Talmud. They have been codified in various codes of Jewish law and tradition, such as Maimonides' Mishneh Torah (12th century) and Joseph Karo's Shulchan Aruch (16th century.) These customs are most commonly observed within Orthodox Judaism. In Conservative Judaism, the practices are normative, with certain leniencies and exceptions. Ritual washing is not generally performed in Reform Judaism.

Samaritan woman at the well

The Samaritan woman at the well is a figure from the Gospel of John, in John 4:4–26. In Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions, she is venerated as a saint with the name Photine (also Photini, Photina, meaning "the luminous one" from φως, "light").

Sebil (fountain)

A sebil or sabil (Arabic: سبيل‎; Turkish: sebil) is a small kiosk where water is freely dispensed to members of the public. Historically, it is a structure of both civic and religious importance in Muslim cities, most characteristically under the Ottoman Empire, but also in other regions and periods such as Mamluk Cairo. It is sometimes also used to refer to simple fountains for drinking water. Sebils were built at crossroads, in the middle of city squares, and on the outside of mosques and other religious complexes throughout the Ottoman Empire to provide drinking water for travelers and enable ritual purification (ablutions) before prayer.

Shadirvan

Shadirvan (Turkish: şadırvan, Arabic: شاذروان‎) is a type of fountain that is usually built in the yard or entrance in front of mosques, caravanserais, khanqahs and madrasahs, with the main purpose of providing water for drinking or ritual ablutions to several people at the same time, but also as decorative visual or sound element.

Shadirvan is Persian in origin, and is a typical element of Ottoman architecture. Examples include Shadirvan square in Prizren, and the Band-e Kaisar Shadervan Bridge in Iran.

The term sadirvan may alternatively be spelt shadervan; shaderwan; şadervan; šadervan, šadrvan or šedrvan; and Шадраван (shadravan).

Water Communion

The Water Communion (Water Ritual) is a ritual service common in Unitarian Universalist congregations. It is usually held in the fall.

Water of Life (Christianity)

In Christianity the term "water of Life" (Greek: ὕδωρ ζωῆς hydōr zōēs) is used in the context of living water, specific references appearing in the Book of Revelation (21:6 and 22:1), as well as the Gospel of John. In these references, the term Water of Life refers to the Holy Spirit.The passages that comprise John 4:10–26 are sometimes referred to as the Water of Life Discourse. These references in the Gospel of John are also interpreted as the Water of Life.The term is also used when water is poured during Baptismal prayers, praying for the Holy Spirit, e.g., "Give it the power to become water of life".

Wudu

Wuḍūʾ (Arabic: الوضوء‎ al-wuḍūʼ [wʊˈdˤuːʔ]) is the Islamic procedure for wiping parts of the body, a type of ritual purification, or ablution. Wudu involves washing the hands, mouth, nostrils, arms, head and feet with water and is an important part of ritual purity in Islam. What activities require wuḍūʾ, what rituals constitute it and what breaks or invalidates it are governed by fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and specifically its rules concerning hygiene.

Wuḍūʾ in other languages is Persian: آب‌دست or دست‌نماز‎ ābdast or dast-namāz; Azerbaijani: abdəst or dəstəmaz; Urdu: وضوء‎ / ALA-LC: wuz̤ūʾ IPA: [wʊzuː]; Turkish: abdest; Albanian: abdest; Bengali: অযু ôju; Sylheti: ꠅꠎꠥ ozu; Indonesian: wudhu; Chechen: Ламаз эцар/Lamaz ecar; Bosnian: abdest; Kurdish: destniwêj (دەست نوێژ)‎; Somali: weeso.

Wuḍūʾ is typically done in preparation for formal prayers (salat) and also before handling and reading the Qur'an. Impurifying activities that invalidate wudu include urination, defecation, flatulence, deep sleep, light bleeding and sexual intercourse.Wuḍūʾ is often translated as "partial ablution", as opposed to ghusl ("full ablution"), washing the whole body, or tayammum ("dry ablution"), replacing water with sand or dust due to its scarcity, its harmful effect on the person or some other reason. Purification of the body and clothes is called taharah.

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