Religious Ritual Observation

For the next several weeks, you will be learning about various aspects of religious rituals. Although you will be watching clips in the modules, nothing compares to experiencing a ritual first hand. For this assignment, you will be watching and analyzing a religious ritual of your choice. It can be any religious ritual but make sure it is substantial enough to write a paper about. If you have any questions about choosing a ritual or want suggestions, just contact me.

This is not a book report – your assignment should be based on your observations and any interviews you conduct. That being said, if you need to look something up (e.g., the meaning of symbol) that’s fine – just make sure to cite your sources!

You should look through the assignment now so you can start planning, but you won’t be able to do the assignment until we have finished this section of the course (at the end of week 4). After that you will have another three weeks to actually complete the assignment. That being said, this is not something you can do at the last minute – make sure to plan ahead!

Many students tell me that this assignment is their favorite part of the course. Pick a ritual you are interested in and will enjoy learning more about!

General Guidelines for the Paper

Your paper should be 1.5 spaced, 12-point font, with 1-inch margins.

Save your file as either a word document (.doc or docx) or a PDF file for submission.

Include your name, class and semester on the title page.

Explain everything in your own words using complete sentences.

Make sure you cite your sources. (LAVC library resource on citations (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.)

Make a heading for each analysis section as indicated below.

The Paper

Include a separate heading for each section below. With the exception of the ritual description, the questions for each section can be answered in a paragraph or two.

I. Ritual Observed

What religious ritual did you observe? Include religion (be specific), ritual, specific location, and the date. Include a picture of you that shows that you did the observation (e.g., in front of the ritual location). Do not take pictures during the ritual without getting permission! If you have problems meeting this requirement, please contact me as soon as possible.

II. Ritual Description

Describe the ritual that you observed. This should be an approximately three to four page description of what you observed, including a description of the setting, participants and religious specialists. Describe step by step what happened during the ritual.

III. Ritual Classification

How would you classify this ritual? Was it prescriptive or situational? Was it periodic or occasional? How would Wallace classify the ritual (e.g., therapy, social rite of intensification, rite of passage, etc.)? Make sure to include all three classifications. Explain why you classified the ritual the way you did.

IV. Symbols

Describe the symbols you observed, making sure to include the meaning of each. Include symbolic elements of time and space if appropriate.

V. Ritual Specialist

How would you classify the ritual specialist (i.e., priest or shaman)? What characteristics led you to that decision?

VI. Altered States of Consciousness

Was there any evidence of altered states of consciousness? If yes, what characterized the altered state? How was the altered state achieved? If there was absolutely no evidence of altered states, contact me for further instructions.

VII. Worldview

What is the worldview of this religion? How was this worldview reflected in the ritual?

VIII. Conclusion

Write a paragraph or two on your own thoughts and responses to what you observed