Can Anything be a Ritual?

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By Mary Rebecca Read-Wahidi

Becky is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology and will graduate just as soon as she finishes writing her dissertation on the Virgin of Guadalupe. She joined the Department of Religious Studies as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Fall of 2012, and was immediately enamored by the charming atmosphere, lofty office space, and pencils with “religion in culture” printed on them.

Recently in Dr. Ramey’s “Introduction to Religions of the World” class he was covering a topic dear to my heart: rituals. After class, a student asked, “So, any prescribed action done on a regular basis would be a ritual?”  Good question! Would it? The line between what is a ritual and what is a mundane act can be fuzzy, especially when the concept is placed in a classroom setting. (Funny how the “fuzzyness” of those topics we discuss so confidently always comes to the surface in a classroom setting.) I tried to explain that maybe it depends on how important that action is to you, drawing on my extreme fondness for my morning cup of coffee. Continue reading