How are ritual and time-marking important in Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic traditions?

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Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism all revolve around rituals and festivals or ceremonies that mark special times in people's lives or in the life of the community. Let's look at some of these in each religion to help you get started on your essay.

In Islam, you will want to...

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Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism all revolve around rituals and festivals or ceremonies that mark special times in people's lives or in the life of the community. Let's look at some of these in each religion to help you get started on your essay.

In Islam, you will want to discuss the five daily periods of prayer and the rituals involved (like purification, the proper direction to face, and the various prayers to be said and movements to be made). The five pillars of Islam are also surrounded by ritual, and you might talk about the pillars and mention some of the practices that accompany them. With regard to marking time, focus on festivals like Ramadan, Maulid al-Nabi, and Al-Isra Wal Miraj. You may also discuss birth ceremonies, the Shadada (when a young person formally enters into Islam), marriage, and funerals.

Now let's think about Buddhism. Think especially about the rituals surrounding meditation (like the mantra or the focus object). You can discuss practices of worship as well, focusing on body positions, offerings, and chanting. As for marking time, concentrate especially on birth and death rituals and the entry into monastic life. You might also write about festivals like Vesak, Asalha Puja, and Esala Perahera.

Finally, when you think about Hinduism, you should think about puja (the ritual of worship designed to show reverence to a deity), the various sacrifices and offerings practiced by Hindus, daily prayer rituals (like mantras and asanas), and pilgrimages. Hinduism also marks the passage of time through the samskaras, the rites of passage, four of which are widely practiced: jatakarma at birth, upanayana (an initiation rite), vivaha (marriage), and antyeshti (funeral rites). You will want to at least mention these and describe them a bit. Hindus also celebrate various festivals like Diwali, the festival of lights, and Holi in the spring.

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