Rites of Passage

This month we reflect on the importance of memorialising life events.

Eid means festival or feast and there are two of them. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the Holy Month of fasting, and is celebrated during the first three days of Shawwāl, the 10th month of the Islamic calendar (Muslims use a lunar calendar, which means that it may fall in any season of the year). Eid al-Adha is the feast of sacrifice, charity, gift-giving and festive meals and usually falls a little over two months after Eid al-Fitr.

With these celebrations in the near future, we wonder about the importance of rituals in our daily lives from a societal aspect. According to the UNESCO website, social practices and festive events structure the lives of communities and groups. They are significant because they reaffirm the identity of those who practise them, whether performed in public or private. They can have a religious meaning, help to mark the passing of the seasons or stages of a person’s life.

According to psychologists, rituals help us experience stability and continuity; they give us a feeling of trust in life’s flow and forward movement. They can also help us connect with our roots and ancestors and have a sense of belonging – being part of something bigger than ourselves.

Some common ceremonies are birthdays, marriages and funerals, but also some group activities. This means that Friday lunches and dinners for Muslims and Sunday dinners with family, which are popular in western countries, also fall into this category.

No matter what rituals you keep in your life, they are an essential aspect of a healthy lifestyle. They mark the beginning, the journey or the end of something. Don’t dismiss them; own them and commemorate them with others.

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