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Articles on Rituals

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A playground bench is colorfully decorated at the new Sandy Hook Elementary School, which replaced the one torn down after a gunman killed 20 first graders and six educators in 2012. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Demolishing schools after a mass shooting reflects humans’ deep-rooted desire for purification rituals

An anthropologist explains the power of purification rituals, such as bringing down a building following a tragic occurrence in it, and why they help reduce our anxieties.
Some people are drawn to the idea of a natural burial to bring more of the dying ritual into their homes. LPETTET/E+ via Getty Images

What’s a natural burial? A Christian theologian explains

Green burial is not a new concept, but it is gaining interest among consumers, and some religious groups are leading the way. A theologian explains what’s involved and who natural burials appeal to.
A man takes a picture of a statue representing the 5,300-year-old mummy named Ötzi, discovered in the Italian Alps 30 years ago. Andrea Solero/AFP via Getty Images

What Ötzi the prehistoric iceman can teach us about the use of tattoos in ceremonial healing or religious rites

When the 5,300-year-old mummy of Ötzi the Iceman was found 30 years ago, researchers found 61 tattoos on it. A scholar explains how tattoos have been a sacred part of many cultures across the world.
Several celebrities have been seen wearing coats designed by Brenda Equihua, with an image of Mary displayed at the back. Screen grab from Shelley FKA DRAM - Exposure (Official Music Video)

Warrior, servant, mother, unifier – the Virgin Mary has played many roles through the centuries

Mary has acquired popularity among celebrities of late. A religion scholar writes about how for nearly 2,000 years, the mother of Jesus has been viewed as an exemplar by different Christian groups.
Many of the tombs in Japan are elaborately decorated. Nearby visitors can buy flowers, buckets. brooms and other gardening tools to tidy up the graves. John S Lander/LightRocket via Getty Images

Lack of burial space is changing age-old funeral practices, and in Japan ‘tree burials’ are gaining in popularity

In a Japanese tree burial, cremated remains are placed in the ground and a tree is planted over the ashes to mark the gravesite. Environmental responsibility is part of Buddhism.
Hindu devotees attend evening prayers on the banks of the Ganges River during the religious Kumbh Mela festival in Haridwar, India. Prakash Singh/AFP via Getty Images

India prepares for Kumbh Mela, world’s largest religious gathering, amid COVID-19 fears

Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage that started earlier this month in India, has survived wars and famine since its origin. But the biggest threat has been the spread of illness – back then as now.
People visiting a Christ sculpture at the Santa Maria Magdalena Church during the Holy Week in Granada, Spain. Álex Cámara/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Why parts of Good Friday worship have been controversial

Prayers and symbols have the power to bind people together, writes a religion scholar, and so it is important to understand the history and context of Good Friday prayers.

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