The world is endowed with an incredible number of diverse religions. These different communities have varying forms in which their religious tradition was shaped up and how they related to the sacred. Generally, these religious traditions have structures and patterns which can be easily followed and be understood. Also the religious traditions were simultaneously linked to the sacred, that is the sacred being, the sacred places, the sacred artifacts among others. The sacred was to be feared and be respected by all (Oraka, 1983).
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Teachings were among the key pillars that held the religious traditions in place. Each religious tradition had a way of conveying people’s understanding of spirituality and the sacred. Explaining and elaborating their understanding to others was the only way the communities knew to make others believe in what they believe.
In various religious groups, the teachings were primarily passed to the young ones. To begin with, these teachings were stored somewhere. In some more civilized communities like the Islam their teachings were documented religious text which they referred to as Qur’an, sira and hadith were developed in Umayyad Empire. These teachings were passed to children by the elderly who had a vast understanding of the religion. The teaching was conducted in selected places where the children gathered.
Other communities never had ways of documenting their religious teachings so they preserved the teachings in their memories. In this case, the teaching was communicated to the younger generation orally (Oraka, 1983). It goes without debate that every religion had its own doctrines.
Doctrines varied from community to community. Most of the doctrines if not all were dogmatic in the sense that no one was allowed to question them. But the bottom-line agenda of these doctrines was that they were meant to make people act and behave in a certain manner with respect to their belief in the sacred.
Because of the belief of the existence of a Supreme Being various communities involved in worshipping and prayers. Some communities were monotheistic while others were polytheistic. The religious traditions that were monotheistic believed in the existence of one God like the Jewish religion. Jews believed in one God to whom they used to worship and offer prayers to. Worship was considered as a way of acknowledging the supremacy of their God and a way of adoring Him. This was meant to appease Him (Oraka, 1983).
Prayers played an important role in all the communities. They considered it as a way of communicating with the Supreme Being and the sacred. The prayers were offered as a form of gratitude, worship or request to the Supreme Being. Most prayers were accompanied by rituals.
Like prayers, rituals were done depending on the issue at stake. For example, in the Igbo community when a prominent person dies, he/she is placed on a stool in a sitting position clothed in the deceased finest garment. Then animal sacrifice is offered to them and they are well perfumed. The burial follows in the next 24 hours (Oraka, 1983).
Pilgrimage is another component in religious tradition. This is a long religious journey to a sacred place. This journey is meant to strengthen and expand and individual’s religious faith and belief. People go to these places occasionally, not regularly. An example of pilgrimage is the visit to Mecca by members of the Islamic religion.
Oraka, L. N. (1983). The foundation of the Igbo studies. Virginia: University Publishing Co.