A ritual can be defined as a behaviour mode which is formalized by a group of people or a community. Rituals result in bonding people together or it can bring about chaos in the society.
Rituals come in different forms namely disciplinary,pilgrimages,media.political etc. They provide a sense of belonging and a virtual world that compensates for wishes that are not being met .Emile Durkeim(1965) asserted that rituals give a focal point for emotions and generate symbols of group belonging as is common in celebrity culture.Celebrity culture entails idolization of famous people who are visibly extravagant .
David Giles(2000:25)stated the truth when he wrote that today’s celebrity become famous solely through media involvement. Ritual theory main focus is the close interaction of rituals in all social dynamics. The similarity between celebrity culture and rituals is undeniable as they both create a sense of communion with other partakers. They also seem to fill a certain void existing in their lives.
In today’s society young people want to dress, eat and to some extent act like the celebrities losing their identity in the process. Many theories have been put forward in an attempt to explain rituals .Catherine bell viewed rituals as a process of ritualization where by rituals are acted as a way of culture in the society. Ritualization brings about distinction of rituals when one is compared to another. It gives people in position power and authority to control the ritual. Rituals are not only religious, they come in different forms. Rituals can take the form of presidential inauguration whereby there is a handover of instruments of power.
Some rituals are seasonal or periodic creating social connections like the celebration of Christmas. This ritual can include a community or one person. The rituals can be undertaken by an official or those gaining something from it.Other rituals are imitative and participants use symbols to enact sacred traditions like the Muslim pilgrimage to mecca and the Jewish Seder.
For a ritual to work it must have a set of beliefs, a community or followers and a set of behaviours. Excessive adherence to rituals results into a cult. Cults result in boundaries and exclusion of those that don’t belong. (Maus Hubert and Hertz 2009). Rituals should not be forced they should be spontaneous. When imposed rituals bring about social disorder and violence.
Arnold van Gennep rites of passage are another form of a ritual. The change occurs when one moves from one stage to another e.g. from being single to married. For the rite of passage to be complete a ritual must take place.
This rituals grants someone full acceptance in a group. It brings the initiate closer to the community. There are many rites of passage that exist in many cultures worldwide. Some rituals are calendrical and are marked at particular times of the year or fixed period. These rites impose order in the society like New Year’s Day marked every first of January.
Mircea Eliade stated that most calendrical rites are performed to remember the core beliefs of a community. The acts of offering and sacrificing in Edward Tylor’s view are also forms of ritual’s as they are practiced to please the divine. This sacrifices and offerings can be in the form of gifts, animals, food and in extreme cases humans. Most sacrificial rituals are done to appease the gods. Many communities today do not condone human sacrifice however animal sacrifices still take place like in Eid ul-Adha performed by Muslims.
The healthy animals scarified are either sheep, goat,camel or a cow. The shamans carry out rituals of affliction by consulting super natural powers. They are said to cure diseases by mending souls. Rituals of affliction are carried out only in the spiritual world and are done as many times as possible to rid the society of any disorder. The rituals success for a person depends in the communities’ faith and confidence in the shaman powers.Rites of feasting and fasting like those done during the holy month of Ramadan are also considered as rituals.
These rituals are performed by fasting for 30 days after the sightings of the new moon. It is an obligation for every Muslim to fast during Ramadan. In addition rituals can be political as Clifford argued where leaders in power are perceived to be divine or sacred and worth all the respect. Most political rituals are procedural and are carried out within the confines of parliament.
Rituals offer solutions to societal problems and individual needs also they make known the core values of a particular society. Rituals vary from one another depending on what they contain and how often they are practiced plus the overall effect they have on the practitioner.