Paragraph on Fetishism!
Fetishism is probably the most elementary form of religion. It is the adoration of material things because of their mysterious power.
The word ‘fetishes’ comes from the Portuguese explorers, who first applied it to wooden images of the West African Negroes.
But the essential thing is not that they are arterials. A leaf or stone of unusual shape may be adored in the same way as a carved figure. The essence of a fetish is that it has attributed to it a mysterious power for good or evil which some preliterate people call ‘mana’. The fetish is adored or insulted according as to whether it fulfills or does not fulfill its possessor’s wishes.
From the above description it may be concluded that in primitive times the world was thought to be populated with spirits and ghosts of a helpful or harmful nature. To propitiate these ghosts various methods were employed which gave birth to animism, totemism, ceremonialism and the like.
Religion pervades practically in all the societies but there is an endless diversity of the forms of religious belief and practice. The form which it assumes in a society is determined by a host of complex factors. Different societies emphasize different elements of religion. Some assign greater importance to ceremonialism.
Thus Hindu society attaches great importance to ceremonies. The Mantras’ must be recited at the time of birth, marriage and death whether or not one understands their meaning. Other religions are simple cults, with little ritual and less dogma and without professional mediators between worshipper and divine authority.
In some societies the connection between religion and other institutions is closer than in others. Thus among the Chinese than among the American this connection is much closer. Moreover, there is a great deal of variation in the selection of those phases of life which will come under the jurisdiction of religion or which will remain secular.
Marriage may be regarded either a religious function as among Hindus or a secular function as among westerners. Religions have their own central themes which are determined by the life interests of the people. The central theme of western religions has been altered because of the change from an agricultural economy to an industrial one and the consequent modifications in man’s outlook upon life.