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Rituals are viewed as actions that are executed for their symbolic value. These actions are usually performed in different styles. Rituals are commonly set by traditions of a particular community. These activities could be performed on particular occasions or at the diplomacy of people or communities. Still, ritual can be performed by an individual, a group or a whole community. They are performed in subjective areas or in reserved places. A ritual practice may be limited to a particular subset of the community. The objectives of ritual practices are varied with fulfillment of spiritual or emotional needs of the performer, acquiring social acceptance, religious ideals, and intensification of social bonds. Most of the rituals mark all human societies of the past and present. These rituals include worship rites of cults, atonement and purification rites, coronations, funerals and Halloween parties (Catherine 2008).
Ritual and sacred are perceived as concepts that are used for comprehending the modern society. Religion is also perceived as a resource that unites the whole world. According to Durkheim, sacred cannot be considered as any close to being identical with the divine. The gods and the spirits are considered sacred. Other object such as trees, pieces of wood and rocks are also considered sacred. Objects are not perceived as sacred because they are connected to the divine. They are considered sacred because they are prohibited from what may make them profane. Durkheim illustrates religion in the form of beliefs and rites. Beliefs and rites in certain religions are perceived as ways of dealing in thoughts and actions with the elementary dichotomy of sacred and blasphemous (Durkheim 2010).
Durkheim also supposed that religion had great effect on the development of society. He believed that society and religion were inseparable. Durkheim believed that the society originated with religion. Durkheim supposed that religion was healthy, and that it aided people to become a part of the society. Totem is referred to as an entity or a living thing which is highly respected by a group. The totemic symbol is employed to mark particular objects used in rituals such as stones and pieces of wood. Durkheim alleged that people in the society employ totems to represent the society. These totems personified the society and signified it as divine. According to Durkheim, the reverence of the totem illustrated the worship of society. It was significant because the society required reaffirming the notion of the society. Durkheim believed that religion illustrated the ultimate type of society. Durkheim also showed four primary roles of the religion and ceremonies. Initially, Durkheim said that they served a disciplinary task because self-discipline was considered very vital in society. He also alleged that the ceremonies brought the community together. Still, ceremonies and rituals have a stimulating role of reminding people in the society about their unity and the past. Rituals also are significant because they give people an admirable feeling. They also help people in the society to overcome their challenge and strengthen them.
According to Durkheim, totemism separates tribes into clans whose unity is derived from a religious relationship amid their members. Durkheim believes that this association is based on a sacred union amid the clan, people and totemic creature, which could be an animal or plant species. In instances where the totemic entity was an animal or a plant, the clan members were prohibited from consuming it in order to maintain its sacredness. It could only be consumed during certain rituals. People in the society believed that the violation of this rule would cause death. However, Durkheim states that animals were not declared sacred in this way in order to show that they were divine. People in the community did not worship the totemic animals as gods. They only experience a bond of close kinship with them. Still, the use of human blood in rituals illustrated the sacredness of people in the society. These rituals were performed in order to bestow power. Human blood was used to paint the totemic symbol on the ground. It could also be poured on a rock that was perceived to symbolize the totemic entity. Commonly, it is used in initiation rituals. Durkheim also states that human hair and other body organs are regarded as sacred in the society for rituals. The old people in the society are also regarded as more sacred than the young people (Durkheim 2010).
According to Durkheim, animals and plants selected as totem entities are not essentially remarkable in a way to generate religious feelings. He believes that totemism does not entirely concern the totemic entity. It involves the society which is symbolized by the totemic symbol. Experience among people in the society creates deep emotions which maintain the religion (Johnstone 2007) Durkheim believes that individuals are vulnerable to the moral authority applied by respected people and social groups. This authority experienced by people in the society takes the individuals in the group beyond themselves. They develop intensified feelings and different types of behavior they are not able to develop on their own. These authoritarians in the society such as priests and magicians are highly respected in the society. They lead people in the society into performing rituals. Rituals are believed to convey different messages among people in the society (Roy 2007).
People believe that their source of stimulation originates from outside the world beyond their comprehension. They believe that the source is divine. The level of sacredness is measured according to each religion. According to certain religions, their gods are regarded as sacred, but others believe that the totems are sacred. Durkheim believes that the totemic religion originated from the tribal lifestyle. During particular occasions many people would converge on the social gatherings, and they would experience emotions and behaviors that would cause belief in the sacred. He supposes that totemism would commonly develop in such gatherings. Durkheim states that certain ritual behavior developed in totemism. He differentiates two behaviors, which include the negative and positive. The negative behavior portrays things that were forbidden in the society. On the other hand, the positive behavior illustrates the things that were made to occur. According to Durkheim, the negative behavior was concerned with preventing the sacred from contacting with the irreligious. For instance, the sacred ritual entities only touch people perceived as sacred through initiation. Most of the sacred rituals are expected to be performed when naked. People in the community consider clothing and ornaments as being profane (Catherine 2008).
Durkheim states that the profane life and the religious one cannot settle in the same space. In the society, sacredness demands particular locations for the religious rituals. For example, the central Australians may have these locations associated with their ancestors. Ritual objects are stored in these sacred areas when not in use. People that are considered profane are forbidden from accessing these areas. Still, Durkheim alleges that the profane life and the religious one cannot occur at the same time. Sacredness demands that particular moment is to be left for the religious rituals. Basically, daily activities such as fishing, making war and hunting should not be performed during the ritual ceremonies (Marcel 2010).
In positive rituals such as death, the sacredness is ambiguous. Durkheim states that there types of religious force that work for good and ill. They are also perceived as ideas of pure and impure. Entities in religion that are termed as impure are not regarded as profane. They are sacred, but they generate undesirable results. It is evident in Australian funerary rites, where the dead body was originally regarded as impure. It is usually declared horrific and avoided. Later it turns out pure and an object of reverence. This cannot be regarded as an alteration from profane to sacred. The dead body initially had the sacred power. The religion refers to this alteration as a switch of the sacred polarity (William 2010). Religious rituals are mostly executed in a church. The connection between a religion’s doctrine and its ritual can differ from structured religion to non-institutionalized spirituality. In the society rituals are mostly connected with worship that expresses its admiration for a deity. Apart from the personal extent of worship and respect, rituals also hold social role in reinforcing and expressing shared values and beliefs of people in the society. Commonly, people in the society use rituals to strengthen social bonds and nurture interpersonal connections.