Why Do We Need Rituals In Our Life?

by Vrinda Jain
Why Do We Need Rituals In Our Life?

February 1, 2021

People globally engage with each other by celebrating cultural rituals and shared events like New Year's traditions or other community-based practices. We all love celebrating them, but have you ever thought about the instinct that makes us celebrate our ways?

The need for rituals is a fundamental human instinct- it is accurate, essential and raw. And it’s almost as crucial to our existence as breathing. With the compelling desire to join with the universal power, rituals remind us of a greater, quintessential reality.

They invoke a deep awareness sense of ubiquitous paradigms- of unity, consistency, connectivity, and humility. Such traditions offer us a way to connect intimately to the primordial universal force and encourage us to accept the sacred power that informs and nurtures all life.

Rituals can act as the punctuation marks in our life, providing us with a sense of structure.

Where Does the Instinct to Be a Part of Ritual Come From?

All human societies have their rituals— usually repeated symbolic actions that we perceive as purposeful, although we typically cannot understand what’s their archetypal function or cause. Traditions strengthen the sense of being in a community and promote a common belief.

Still, their perplexing diversity can also alienate and divide people, particularly when one culture’s cherished rituals strike another as strange. Many scientists researching rituals consider their mysterious origins to be one of their distinguishing characteristics.

But recently, researchers had come to believe that before traditions were strictly social and highly unusual, many may have begun as attempts to prevent disasters.

Ritual to enable us to connect with our deepest thoughts and feelings in those profound occasions, our highest hopes and most debilitating fears.

Ritual and Traditions

According to the authors of several recent research papers published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B., ritualisation may have enabled human societies to sustain habits that people believed would keep them healthy and away from disasters.

Ritualised methods of cooking food or washing the body, for example, may have arisen as ways of avoiding disease. Many rituals often offer psychological relief through times of difficulty, and after becoming common practise, it helps to bring people together by strengthening a sense of community.

Tighter the Community, Stronger the Belief

In regions where natural disasters and diseases are prevalent, and the danger of crime and disorder is severe, communities appear to be tighter, meaning that they have more substantial social standards and lower tolerance for aberrant behaviour. They also seem to be more spiritual, giving high importance to ritualised conduct.

People’s attitudes about social conformity shift when they are vulnerable to risks or even to expectations of risk. When we all move in synchrony, or consistently execute the same acts, as routines sometimes entail, we may build a calming sense of togetherness. And in the face of risk, community collaboration can be a matter of life and death.

Many rituals are personal, one can perform it by themselves like Prayers at regular intervals and observing some symbolism specific to Religions.

How Did Communities Decide What to Do in a Ritual?

Within the framework of our culture’s naive idolisation of expert opinion, it may be brazen to believe that we decide what is right for us. Yet, let’s look at the personal and social patterns that we have created throughout our lives. We can begin to recognise, define, and assert how we have already, purposely or not, set up a system of celebration that surrounds us.

This realisation helps us to build trust in our context of ritual wellness and our ritualistic potential. Based on this new-found assurance, we cultivate our imagination and actively seek to free ourselves from spontaneity. We will learn to empower our internal critic by studying our dreams, following our intuitions, and listening to our instincts.

By freeing ourselves to obey our personal signs’ desires, we can create our meaningful vocabulary. In this way, we can continually re-invent an individual ritual language that can charge our special events and our widespread commitment with clarity, energy, sense, and grace.

Dealing with loved ones dying in normal times can be difficult enough. But during this global health crisis, a host of new challenges arise as physical distancing forces families apart during final bedside moments.

How Has the Pandemic Changed the Rituals?

In the age of the pandemic, practical health advice, such as hand washing, has become somewhat ritualised. Health experts tell us precisely how to scrub and for how long, to provide a sense of security that we’ve probably washed sufficiently after 20 seconds. Other social practises are also on-going.

And wearing a mask has become a way to display a commitment to a social group and a scientifically sound way to minimise disease transmission risk. It is not clear if these behaviours will inevitably be replicated to the point that we have forgotten why we have ever begun doing them, becoming dedicated routines in the process.

Yet our attempts to explain why the pandemic struck, from religious theories to emphasis on how humans have been vulnerable to disease by destroying the climate, echo the quest of our ancestors to figure out what they have done to deserve the catastrophe.

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