rights of passage?

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rights of passage?

Postby alonzomourning » Mon Feb 13, 2006 9:02 pm

I need to do a report for a college sociology course on rights of passage in religions. I was raised catholic so those rituals I'm most familiar with, things such as baptism, communion, confirmation, marriage, and last rights. Are there similar rituals in baha'i, or is there less structure? If so could some help in finding information on such rituals? I think all I really need is the names, I should be able to find the stuff after that. I've tried multiple sites and can't seem to find what I'm looking for.

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Postby Jonah » Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:31 am

I think you'll have the best luck by focussing on specific "rites of passage" and the Baha'i teachings on same, e.g.<ul><li>declaring as a Baha'i</li><li>marriage</li><li>huquq'u'llah</li><li>burial and funereal laws</li></ul>
The Baha'i Faith isn't old enough, or scripturally-decentralized enough, to have evolved its own set of "rites of passage" per se, but it does have laws regarding many of these events (e.g. the age at which one can "declare"). Try the <a href="http://bahai-library.com/?file=bahaullah_aqdas"><i>Kitab-i-Aqdas</i></a> or <i>Lights of Guidance</i> (not online) for most of the relevant laws.


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Postby onepence » Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:37 pm

a case can be made for honoring ones parents as a right of passage


Therefore, children, in return for this care and trouble, must show forth charity and beneficence, and must implore pardon and forgiveness for their parents. So you ought, in return for the love and kindness shown you by your father, to give to the poor for his sake, with greatest submission and humility implore pardon and remission of sins, and ask for the supreme mercy.

" ...observe the wishes of thy parents ... "

There are also certain sacred duties on children toward parents, which duties are written in the Book of God, as belonging to God.

and following verse could imply rights of passage on becoming a parent

The (children's) prosperity in this world and the Kingdom depends upon the good pleasure of parents, and without this they will be in manifest loss.

subsection ... naming {of children} rite of passage

Thou hast asked regarding the naming of children: When thou wishest to name a babe, prepare a meeting therefor; chant the verses and communes, and supplicate and implore the Threshold of Oneness and beg the attainment of guidance for the babe and wish confirmated firmness and constancy; then give the name and enjoy beverage and sweetmeat. This is spiritual baptism.

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Postby brettz9 » Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:24 am

Dear alonzomourning,


First to your second question:
Are there similar rituals in baha'i, or is there less structure?

In general, there is less structure as far as forumula, yes. The Bahá'í Writings describe the Faith as having a minimum of ritual.

'Baha'u'llah has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in
His Faith. The few forms that there are--like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers--are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them and a great blessing, but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things; that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two.'

"Thus it can be seen that the Faith has certain simple rites prescribed by Baha'u'llah, such as the obligatory prayers, the marriage ceremony and the laws for the burial of the dead, but its teachings warn against developing them into a system of uniform and rigid rituals incorporating man-made forms and practices, such as exist in other religions where rituals usually consist of elaborate ceremonial practices performed by a member of the clergy.

(From a letter written of behalf of the Universal House of Justice to
the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, October 16, 1979)

The letter also admits that we have dogmas in the sense of a principle (as might be said for rituals as far as certain regular practice), but not "rigid doctrines that have accumulated in a religion after the passing of its Founder".

As to your specific items of interest:

1. Baptism: No, we do not have baptism (except in the symbolic sense of being revived with new life by new belief--and this only for adults). The original meaning of baptism (in the context of Jesus' time), however, is interpreted in our Writings here and here. There is information as Jonah mentioned in the offline "Lights of Guidance", some of which we could post for you, but they do not outline any Baha'i practices related to it (they relate to our relationships with Christian family members or others who may wish us to participate in such a ceremony, etc.). There is a possible baby-naming ceremony as onepence mentioned, but it is not obligatory, nor is it to become a fixed practice (and does not involve baptism as with water--nor fire for that matter (as the Bible also refers to baptism by both)!). :)

2. Communion. We do not have any forumula associated to this. The original meaning of the bread and wine in the Scriptures is interpreted in our Writings in Some Answered Questions Chapter 21. Is this really a rite of passage though?

3. The closest equivalent to confirmation might be the declaration of a youth as a Baha'i (generally at the age of 15, if not earlier), but again there is no prescribed ceremony with this.

4. We do have a simple marriage ceremony. The details should be in a work which has been online here at BLO, called "Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities", but I think may be missing due to some server issues. Jonah? It basically requires:

a) Permission of all living biological parents
b) A vow recited by both bride and groom, "We will all, verily, abide by the will of God."
c) The presence of two reliable witnesses.

I may be forgetting something, but as you can see, it is quite culturally adaptive.

5. As far as Baha'i burial, this is one area which has a more forumulaic ritual in that it is the only congregational prayer permitted in our Faith (where someone leads the prayer, so to speak). (My own guess is that this is due to the greater degree of formula is due to the solemnness of the occasion...) The prayer is available here.

Hope this is of some help...

By the way, you may want to be sure to spell it as "rites of passage" to avoid a lower mark from your professor... :)

And, for your information, although the Baha'i Faith differs from Catholicism in our belief that Christ has returned, and as far as not having any priestly caste, our Writings do recognize the "primacy of Peter" and refer to the positive "foundation they [Catholics] lay of spiritual discipline, and their emphasis on spiritual values and adherence to moral laws, is very important and very close to our own beliefs."

all the best,

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