Paragraph on Ceremonialism
Ceremonialism is a collective practice usually associated with religion.
Thus praying, feasting, dancing, singing, kneeling are examples of ceremonialism or ritualism. All religions provide frequent ritual contact with other communicants, a form of group intra-stimulation.
In this sense ritual ceremonial may be called the external side of religion. Like the belief itself it comes to have a quality of sacredness attached to it.
Some thinkers have believed ritual to be more important than religious belief itself in maintaining religious attitudes. Ritual helps to remind individual of holy realm, to revivify and strengthen his faith in this realm. The survival of Judaism has been attributed to the insistence of the Pharisees that almost every act should be ritualised. Similar is the case with Hinduism which lays great stress on rituals.
At the time of birth, marriage and death in a Hindu family many ritual ceremonies are observed. In a church congregation one observes several rituals. On cue one rises, bows, kneels, comes forward, and so on. Many ceremonies sometimes seem incredibly intricated.
However, some of these ceremonies must have been invented by the primitive people with a purpose in mind which has now lost that purpose due to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Behind ceremonies there is definitely a logic, if no other logic than the logic of emotional satisfaction might be there. For social cohesion satisfaction of emotional feelings is necessary and if a ceremony serves that purpose this is a sufficient ground for its observance.
We may here note the distinction between belief and ritual. Belief is an attitude towards sacred things. It is based upon faith rather than upon evidence. It is the cognitive aspect of religion. Thus a cow is a sacred thing. The is attitude is based upon faith. There is nothing to distinguish a sacred cow from any other cow, except the faith or belief of those who regard it as sacred.
Ritual, as we have already noted, is a religious practice. It is behaviour with reference to sacred objects. The sacredness of behaviour comes from the attitude taken towards the sacred objects.