What Do Religious Rituals Mean to You?

I was baptized last week. I don’t know what you think of when you hear baptism referenced. Maybe of a naked baby in a bowl getting holy water sprinkled on its crying head? Well, I definitely had clothes on. And I was in a pond, outside under palm trees and stars. A man-made pond, but a pond nonetheless. I made the decision to be baptized again as an adult, because my childhood baptism experience was a result of my parent’s prodding when I was about ten years old.

I wasn’t really sure why I was doing it until I stepped down into the pool. The water came up to my thighs as I waited my turn in line. I asked someone to hold my glasses for me, and waded out to the middle of the pond to get dunked by a pastor. I felt a little silly at first, but to my surprise I found myself crying as I answered the questions of faith posed to me. I went under, I came up, people cheered, and I headed for my towel.

It was all a bit surreal to me. As a rational, logical person, I can’t really explain to you why this religious rite of sorts affected me so much. I just know that it was an outward display of my faith, and my choice to live my life with devotion to my religion.

What I’m interested in is your religious rituals. Had I been baptized last week as a Mormon, they would’ve had to dunk me again since the top of my head wasn’t immersed and therefore wouldn’t have counted. Certain types of Jewish baptisms require many more steps and much more premeditated thought than simply stepping into a pond one night after chapel. What’s the Muslim equivalent to the baptism rite?

It’s really odd to think about how many people take part in these sort of religious rituals. I wonder why we do it. Things like confirmation and bat mitzvahs. We eat bread and drink grape juice in communion and view it as a holy act. Some of us pray facing the ancestral site of the holy city of our faith every day. We fast and feast and repeat. The ways in which we do these things vary from faith to faith, but we’re not as different as we might think. All of us who follow a chosen religion participate in these rituals, these remnants from ancient times. They mean different things to all of us, and they can change wildly even within the spectrum of one religion. We abstain from certain foods, and we view others as sacred.

These rites and rituals and ceremonies that we take part in are each deep and meaningful, in their own way. I really want to hear what your view is on the religious rituals of your chosen faith. What do they mean to you, and why do you practice them? Please share your stories in the comments. I’d love to learn from you this week.

(Image via ShutterStock.)