Here are some notes which were prepared for a school…do feel free to borrow as you wish.
the illustrations are fun
In Japan, in Buddhist temples you will sometimes see a basin called a “tsukubai” which is used for washing before ceremonies. It is also used in the tea ceremony People wash their hands or mouth at the “tsukubai”. It is on the ground so you must crouch. The word “tsukubai” means “to bow down” or “to crouch”
The tsukubai are made of stone and have a small spoon to scoop out water and pour it on your hands etc. both the person giving and the person receiving HOSPITALITY plays an important role in the ceremony.
The Japanese tea ceremony is part of this image of pure water Note the kanji (special ceremonial/religious writing) from the first picture and the translation below. Everything has a meaning
The tea ceremony (Cha-e 茶会) involves waiting. Guests come into the tea garden from an outer garden called the Yoritsuki. They wait in the KOSHIKAKE MACHIAI before they are invited into the teahouse.
They walk down the garden path (ROJI) and they are made to feel they are entering a different world. Time is slower.
The Teishu opens a sliding door to the teahouse (Chasitsu: 茶室) to greet the guests
Guests begin the ceremony by washing their hands at the Tsukubai
The floor of the teahouse is covered with Enza (special mats)
People kneel on the floor
They are given tea by the TEISHU (tea maker/ host)
They eat WAGASHI (sweets) and drink tea.
THINKING ABOUT WHAT WE ARE DOING
The tea ceremony is about doing something very simple in a perfect way. It is about hospitality and it is about making simple things beautiful.
It is about THINKING about what you are doing.
Most of the time, we do not think about what we are doing. We listen to music. We talk. We think about OTHER things.
The tea ceremony shows us about conscious learning.
This is something that we practice in mediation.
Forms of meditation exist in all the main religious traditions.
Brahmins follow the strictest idea of ceremonial washing.
Many Brahmin wash in the holy river Ganges.
(the man in the picture is wearing the “sacred thread” or UPAVITA which shows he is following a guru or teacher. The sacred thread is won in the same way -over the left shoulder- that a woman will wear a sari)
Every year, up to 40 million people travel to the river Ganges to wash. (Pilgrimage)
A Pilgrimage is a journey where people feel they are doing something to get closer to God. Pilgrimage happens in all the main religions.
Hindus try to make one pilgrimage in their lifetime. The river Ganges is a favourite place of pilgrimage. It is sacred to the Goddess GANGA. Bathing in the river washes people of their sins and helps people to MOKSHA (Release from death as well or “awakening” and it also leads to a greater knowledge of themselves)But many people also travel to sacred mountains and temples linked to particular gods and goddesses
Some people believe in achamana which is drinking and touching pure water from the palm of the hand (this is an important p[art of Brahmin rituals but actually any Hindu can perform this ritual) when reciting special prayers called Mantras
It also involves putting a tilaka on your forehead
Special washing ceremonies called Punyahavachanam are used before marriage, Homa. Water is generally sprinked on people (ASPERGES)
Traditionally, the bride’s parents wash the feet of the groom before the wedding.
Abhisheka: a deity’s murti or image is washed in water, milk, yoghurt ghee, rosewater
It is an important part of the ritual of a coronation (does not happen very often now!)
When a death happens, Hindus may take a bath to clean themselves
Women often take a bath after they have a period.
Many of these traditions are shared across the various faiths.
Before praying, Muslims wash: they wash hands, mouth, nostrils, arms, feet and head It is called “al WUDU” الوضو In Turkish and Albanian, this is known as “abdest”, and in Persian as “dast-Namaz” (literally means: “Before praying” The word Namaz in Punjabi/Sanskrit/Persian means “Prayer”)
1) After receiving the bread and wine, a priest washes his/her hands in the Anglican/Catholic/Orthodox Church
2) On Ash Wednesday a mark is made with ashes on people’s foreheads. What do you think this symbolizes?
3) Catholics believe that Baptism washes away people’s “original sin”
4) Baptism is a form of “initiation” (Beginning)
Initiation: an important word. Do you remember we talked about the way we “initiate” a class- how does a class begin? When does a class begin?
5) In Judaism people often visit the MIKVEH if they are “unclean”, that is if they have been in contact with dead people, blood –
6) Many people in Christianity make pilgrimages to Rome, Jerusalem (2 million tourists a year), and in the middle ages, people famously travelled from across the kingdom to Canterbury where ArchBishop Thomas a Becket had died. A famous book called “the Canterbury Tales” was written about the journey and the stories people told to each other. Some of the stories are serious and some are very funny. The book is one of the first great bits of English writing by Geoffrey Chaucer.
Sikhs may visit the golden temple of Amritsar. Hindus may visit the Vaishno Devi Temple in the mountains of Kashmir. Buddhists may visit the Bodhi tree or life tree where Gautama meditated for 49 days before his enlightenment. 13 million Muslims visit Mecca every year. In Mexico, 10 million Catholics visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
7) Meditation. There are many forms of meditation in Christianity. In Catholicism, some people say the ROSARY (a series of prayers based on a string of 50 beads), some Orthodox Christians recite the “Jesus Prayer”, some Christians believe in silent prayer. There is a tradition in Sufu Islam of dancing (the Whirling dervish). In Hinduism and Buddhism people often use a simple word or mantra repeated over and over again. They feel this is relaxing and brings them closer to God.
Some people practice meditation without religious belief. It can be a very therapeutic exercise (therapeutic/ therapy- from the greek θεραπεύω I serve, cure, heal)
8) Sharing a meal, hospitality. Remember the story of Abraham and the 3 angels. In Christianity, Hospitality might involve “Holy Communion” where Christians celebrate their community together by sharing a simple meal. “Eucharist” simply means “thankyou”.
9) Images and words help us to “enter another world” and to concentrate.
10) Icons, statues and religious pictures are sometimes blessed and washed in Christian ceremonies. On the first sunday of Lent in Orthodox Churches, it is traditional to bring icons to church to bless them and carry them in procession.
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