What role do rituals play in affirming community? Essay

What role do rituals play in affirming community? Essay

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In essence, everything we do is a ritual. Rituals are tradition, a way of gathering people together to celebrate; to mourn; to live. They are also a way of conforming; religious rituals may make people feel better because the known is better than the ‘unknown’. From mundane things such as shopping to important ones like remembrance services for those who died in wars. It is my objective in this essay to try to explain in what ways that rituals affirm communities (if they do) and what role they take. To do this I will use three historical periods to outline my argument that rituals overall help to unite communities most of the time. Through the use of repetitive actions the community is positively bolstered by connecting with the pas, and potentially increases the level of belonging and attached one feels to a location.. The periods are: Renaissance Italy, Colonial India and Contemporary Western Europe. Using these three time periods as an overall starting point, rituals in communities shall come to light, and their importance and role shall be discovered. Ritual actions are different from ‘every day’ actions. A ritual is formalised, collective, institutionalised and kind of a repetitive action. Rituals function as rules of conduct which guide the behaviour of men and women in the presence of the sacred and can appear as the legitimation of secular authority, but there are also ‘rituals of rebellion’ which will be explained later. Ritual is a word derived from the word ‘Rite’ and refers to the liturgical practices of the church. The invention of an idea of ‘ritual’ as a distinct form of activity came from the Protestant reformation. The Protestants condemned this idea; they saw the word ritual as something to describe the disrepu...


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...ernard, ‘Representing authority in Victorian India’, in Hobsbawm, Eric and Terence Ranger (eds.), The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983).
Haynes, Douglas E., ‘Imperial ritual in a local setting: the ceremonial order in Surat, 1890-1939, Modern Asian Studies, 24, 3 (July 1990), 493-527.
Hobsbawm, Eric J and Ranger, Terence. The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 2003).
Johnson David A., ‘A British Empire for the twentieth century: the inauguration of New Delhi, 1931’, Urban History, 35 (2008), pp. 462-84.
Muir, Edward, Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice (Princeton, 1981).
Nussdorfer, Laurie, ‘The Vacant See: ritual and protest in early modern Rome’, The Sixteenth Century Journal, 18 (1987), 173-89.
Trevithick, Alan, ‘Some structural and sequential aspects of British imperial assemblages at Delhi, 1877-1911, Modern Asian Studies, 24:3 (1990), pp. 561-578.

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