Rituals in culture

Hardig (shardig@wsunix.wsu.edu)
Sat, 9 Sep 1995 23:31:22 GMT

One of the most fascinating componets in culture is the rituals.
In nearly all cultures at all levels rituals are present, whether it is a
dance for the "gods" before a hunt or saying grace at the table. A large
percent of societies also seem to have one or two yearly festivals as
well as celebrations on individual levels such as for birth and weddings.
These rituals have a wide array of origins such as religion, myths,
ancestor veneration, or hommage to kings or emperors. Many of these
practices evolve along with the changes in culture (for example, the
pagan rituals were modified and given different names and history but not
obliterated with the rise of Christianity).
Since the principle reason for culture is to sustain and
perpetuate populations and is the tool people learn to surive, could
rituals persistance throughout time and peoples be due to a function it
provides? Regardless of its origin, the way it is performed, of the
philosophy behind them, or where it is practiced, why is this a common
thread that runs through all cultures past and present? If so, what is the
function or need that rituals fulfill?
Has there been any basic or cross-cultural studies done on this?
I would be truly fascinated to hear any theories.
S. Hardig