8 Surprising Birth Rituals from Near and Far

baby naming ceremony

8 Surprising Birth Rituals from Near and Far

 

Globally, the birth of a baby is celebrated in a variety of creative and spiritual ways. Viewed in many cultures as a sacred event, participating in various rituals has become the norm for new parents around the world. While some of the more controversial rituals are presently contested by modern science, many are nonetheless still practiced in religious communities, just the way they have been for centuries.

NOTE: Some of the rituals described in this document are not suitable for all audiences. Since a glimpse into the real world of global birth rituals is the main objective, no efforts were made to obscure the details.

Notable Birth Rituals from Sea to Shining Sea

Although there are birth rituals practiced in almost every region of the world, some are more bizarre or heart-warming than others. Furthermore, the rituals described here are deemed the most popular because there are hundreds (if not thousands) of people who participate, with many of the followers spread out into different regions of the world. It’s obvious that some of these habits have taken on a special meaning for their participants, having inspired them to bring their beliefs along with them to new areas of the globe.

Below are 8 still practiced, yet most unique, ways that modern spiritual families welcome their new bundles of joy into the world.

Parents Shave the Baby’s Head

Within the first few days of being born, and certainly within the first 3 years of life, new parents will shave their little one’s head in certain corners of the Hindu and Muslim traditions. In Islam, it’s a sign of servitude to Allah, while it’s seen as a means to rid the baby’s aura of negative energy by the Hindu believers. Either way, the chopped locks typically end up being thrown into the local river or traded for its equal weight in precious metal.

Family Members Honor the Placenta

As a group event, the baby’s detached placenta is honored in a ritualistic fashion by certain religious denominations. Seen as a dense source of vital nutrients, some people are inclined to perform some odd rites with this otherwise disposable reproductive organ. Among the rituals are activities such as burying it, eating it, and even making jewelry with it. While there are proven nutritional benefits to consumption, medical professionals do not typically recommend it.

Male Circumcision

Viewed as an acceptable ritual in most parts of the developed world, removing a male baby’s foreskin is commonly known as “circumcision.” Started in ancient Judaea and practiced by many Islamic, Christian, and Muslim faiths today, this removal process is not seen as traumatic in any way to the baby who is, for the most part, less than 8 days old at the time of the procedure.

The Baby Is Submerged in Holy Water

Typically referred to as “baptism,” submerging a newborn baby in water that has been blessed by a religious officiant is a common ritual that’s been practiced for millennia. Believed to be a way to cleanse the child of its original sin, Catholics and other Christian denominations ritualistically baptize their baby in a holy ceremony by either dipping the child into a large bowl or by gently sprinkling its head.  In the modern European pagan perspective the Baby Naming Rite – normally held on the 9th day of the infant’s life – resembles this practice except that the child is blessed with an evergreen sprig dipped in holy water.

The Child Is Given Godparents

Godparents are people assigned through a union between God, the biological parents, and the child for the purposes of ensuring proper care for the child in the unfortunate event of the deaths of the biological parents. Seen as a wise plan of action by most, Godparent rituals often have guest lists that include religious and public officials, family members from both parties, friends, and church members. In fact, most Godparent Ceremonies are viewed as legally binding contracts.

The Baby Gets Its Ears Pierced

Some Hindus believe that piercing their baby’s ears in a ritual known as Karnavedha will keep evil spirits from inhabiting the innocent souls of the young. With a dual benefit of being a positive acupuncture point, the ear lobes are pierced in a ceremony that happens on either the 1st or 3rd birthday of the child. At times, it’s even done at the same time as the head shaving ritual since it’s practiced by the same group of religious participants.

Naming the Baby Is Done by Randomly Flipping to a Page in Holy Text

Welcoming a baby to their awaiting community is often done with great fanfare. Parents take their newborn to a temple (usually within 40 days of it birth) to present it to a priest. There, a holy book is opened to a random page and the contents are read aloud. Parents then name their child based on the first letter of the hymn found on the page. Once the baby’s new name is announced to the congregation, a traditional treat is served, and the ceremony comes to a close.

The Baby Is Given Something Sweet with which to Start Life

Families from the Middle East have several mysterious superstitions, but some of them are sweeter than others. For instance, newborn babies are given something sweet tasting within hours of being born. Followers of this ritual believe that it will make the baby speak sweetly as it learns to talk. While honey is typically the food of choice, sweets of all types are used by those who practice this ritual which is most commonly known as Jatakarma.

The List (and the Love) Is Endless

The variation of birth rituals around the world is astounding, not to mention fascinating. The sheer number of naming rite ceremonies alone is enough to fill an entire book. People from all walks of life tend to regard the birth of a child as a sacred experience, reserved for somber celebration by families who value a quality life and commitment to tradition. And while some of the rituals seem off-putting, unhealthy, painful, or even dangerous, it’s still obvious that there’s a lot of love behind them all.

Personal Development Tactics You’re Probably Not Using

never stop learning

There’s nothing simple or straightforward about trying to find ways to reinvent yourself, to improve your life, and to lead the kind of lifestyle that you’ve always dreamed of.

 

Reshaping the way we think, the way we act, and the kinds of decisions that we make on a minute by minute basis is tough work. That’s why so few people find a way to escape the gravity of our habits and our “old decisions”, and why so many people resist and fight change with every ounce of energy that they have.

 

At the same time, we now know that there are only a handful of small but fundamental changes you have to make in your life to overhaul almost every aspect of your day to day lifestyle. With just a couple of simple habits, you’re able to make your transformation a lot easier – and you can hit the ground running with these simple and straightforward personal development tactics below.

 

Embrace That You Are Your Greatest Motivator

 

Nothing is going to get done without sufficient motivation, but far too many of us look for motivation from the outside rather than looking to ourselves to give us the “kick in the pants” we need to really rock and roll.

By understanding that you are the only one that can truly motivate yourself, and that you are the only one that can alter your attitude and your perception so that you have every chance of success, you are able to unleash the kind of personal development potential that you are after with far greater effectiveness.

Yes, it’s easier to have accountability and someone holding your feet to the flames, so maybe as a compromise put a productivity app to work for you.

 

 

Visualization is an Insider Secret all Top Performers Utilize

 

Every truly successful individual, from the highest levels of athletics to the board room and everything in between, has mentioned that visualization is a huge part of their success, and you’d be crazy not to take advantage of everything that visualization stands to offer you moving forward.

 

There’s only enough time in each day to get in a bit of physical practice, regardless of the kinds of skills you are looking to develop or to hone, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get excellent results by visualizing yourself going through those same practice sessions when you can’t do so physically.

 

A college basketball team recently tried a novel new approach to developing the perfect free throw shot. The team was split into three groups – a control group that didn’t practice free throws at all, a group that practiced free throws for an hour each day, and a group that practiced free throws through visualization for an hour each day without physically shooting them.

 

After a six-week trial, those that practiced physically shooting free throws for an hour each day were able to increase their success rate by nearly 60% – not too shocking.  What is surprising is that those who never practiced free shots on the court but instead used visualization techniques for an hour each day were able to increase their success rate by a whopping 45%!

(As expected, those who didn’t practice at all continue to shoot at about the same.)

 

There’s a tremendous amount of leverage in visualization that makes it worth a try.  Similarly there are other types of manifestation techniques, usually coupled with some kind of meditation approach.  Cosmic Ordering is one.  Basically you write down or otherwise draw up your goals, meditate upon and stay mindful of them until they become reality (okay, that’s the short version!)  There are some good books on the subject and if you’ve historically been challenged by staying focused in meditation check into guided meditations for cosmic ordering with binaural beats and other brainwave stimulation components – it’s the easy way to get the desired effect.

 

Get Real about Failure

 

It is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to have any real measure of ongoing growth and success without some failure along the way, and the sooner you embrace the fact that failure isn’t just possible but inevitable – and you commit to learn from each and every stumble – the sooner you are able to accelerate your path toward achieving goals.

 

Only those that are able to overcome the fear of failure have the best chances at sustained success. Use failure as a learning lesson and a positive steppingstone towards what you are trying to achieve, rather than allowing performance anxiety to keep you on the sideline and never pursuing your dreams.

 

The worst failure isn’t striving for something and coming up short, but never attempting to achieve what you know you are capable of in the first place.

 

You’ve Probably Never Heard of these Funeral Rites

mongolian funeral

 

While almost all of us are familiar with the traditional “Christian” style burial – and it is certainly the most frequently shown on our movies and TV shows – the truth of the matter is that our way is not necessarily the standard in other parts of the globe. There are some amazing (and to us probably bizarre) and unusual types of death and funeral rituals from other cultures around the world.

 

Every people has its own specific rites and rituals, many of them dating back thousands and thousands of years. Some share similar elements with other funerary traditions , but most rituals are quite a bit different than the rest – and some of them have elements that will shock and surprise you.

 

Below we highlight some of the world’s most interesting, unique, and distinct funeral rituals!

 

South Africa

 

Like most of the other African nations and African cultures, ancestors that have passed on are treated with a mixture of both fear and veneration – and funerals in South Africa are designed to show the utmost respect for those that have passed.

 

In South Africa, if someone dies inside of a home the windows of that property may be covered with ash, and all of the beds are to be removed from the dead person’s room so that mourners can enter the space. Some that are particularly traditional sacrifice a small animal in that space to appease the spirits that have gone before us, and most will wash the dirt and dust from their clothes and their bodies before they enter their own homes to avoid bringing in any bad luck.

 

Mongolia

 

Mongolia is probably most famous for their “sky burials”, essentially propping the body of a deceased loved one up on a high and unprotected place so that it can be exposed to the elements and consumed by wildlife. They share this ritual with those from Tibet, and it is a particularly Buddhist point of view that focuses on the needless nests of respecting a body after death as it is simply considered “luggage” in the perspective of Mongolians.

 

Other Mongolians do not share these similar Buddhist beliefs, but instead bury their dead in the ground in caskets that are covered in red and black paint. The grave is then surrounded with milk, rice, and clean sand to help expedite the spirits pathway to the afterlife.

 

Cambodia

 

Similar to those of the Mongolian culture, many Cambodians are Buddhists in their beliefs and are certain of the cycle of reincarnation. Traditional mourning and funeral rituals are not all that popular in Cambodia, as the Cambodian people (in general) believe that those that have passed are merely preparing themselves to be reborn and reincarnated all over again.

 

Some Cambodians will wear white to symbolize their mourning, where others may shave their heads to show respect and appreciation for those that have gone before us. Many Cambodian Buddhists believe that a Buddhist monk should be present at the moment of death, in an effort to help the new soul find its way while it prepares for its next incarnation.

 

At the end of the day, these rituals aren’t all that dissimilar from other rituals around the world when you get right down to the core of them. These death and funeral rituals, like all others, show a respect for those that have gone before us – if not a respect for the actual body itself, a respect for the soul and the memory of the person that has passed on.

 

Cultures all over the world throughout history have found interesting and creative ways to deal with the death, and it’s likely that there will be new traditions created in the future as well.

An Introduction to the Tradition of Handfasting

handfasting

Getting married is something that lovers from all walks of life do. The ceremonies surrounding the union are as unique as the couples hosting them. In Celtic and Pagan communities, for example, a ritual known as “handfasting” has been practiced for centuries. In fact, that’s where the modern world got the expression “tying the knot” when referring to a wedding.

Although seen as a relatively informal ceremony these days, handfasting can still be viewed as a binding agreement between a willing man and woman. Prior to weddings becoming a legally managed enterprise and a church-driven ritual, this type of simple ceremony was the most common way for couples to join themselves in sacred matrimony.

What Is Handfasting?

The concept of handfasting comes from the belief that married couples are eternally bound together in all matters. The ritual is merely a physical manifestation of that belief, involving a literal knot being tied between the betrothed. The “love knot” signified the joining of their lives, and is typically performed by an ordained minister after the vows and rings are exchanged.

And this is regarded as a rather “rational” form of commitment (as opposed to an emotional impulse) because it allows both parties to carefully assess the union for a period of time after the ceremony. The general timeline for a handfasting ritual is as follows:

  • The couple’s hands are bound together with various colored rope. The color of the rope (or cord) is going to vary, especially among practitioners of neo-paganism we’ve noticed.
  • The cord is then kept in an ornate box, protected from harm and containing within it the couple’s ceremonial vows.
  • In general, the box is then kept in a safe place for 1 year and 1 day.

At the end of the “cooling off” period, the couple then removes the vows from the box, considers the events of the past year and their feelings for each other, and then makes a final decision about the relationship. At that time, the binding can become legal with the help of a public official.  (The laws in most Western countries don’t permit a year-long marriage trial so that’s the reason for this final part of the process.)

While handfasting was previously accepted as a legal form of marriage, it is considered a complementary ritual today – more like a more formalized engagement. Others choose to work in the rite as part of their overall wedding service, especially those wanting to add more of a Celtic theme to their big day.

The Significance of the Handfasting Cord

The cords used in the average handfasting ceremony are not regular home center rope. Often hand-woven by the engaged couple or a family member just for the occasion, you can now even find services online that will create a custom one for your rite.  In most cases each cord needs to be at least 48 inches long, allowing the hands of both individuals to be bound. As previously mentioned, the various colors of cord are symbolic of different attributes. Some of the more common meanings:

  • Yellow – Charm, attraction, balance, and harmony
  • Green – Luck, fertility, beauty, and prosperity
  • Red – Love, courage, vigor, and passion
  • Blue – Longevity, strength, pride, and safe travels
  • Purple – Power, progress, vitality, and respect
  • Pink – Unity, honor, romance, and lightheartedness
  • White – Purity, serenity, peace, and loyalty
  • Black – Wisdom, success, vision, and empowerment
  • Brown – Skill development, nurturing, home protection, and talent acquisition
  • Orange – Encouragement, stimulation, attraction, and abundance
  • Gray – Neutrality, balance, cancelling, and return
  • Silver – Inspiration, protection, creativity, and adaptability
  • Gold – Longevity, prosperity, strength, and unity

Important to note is that witnesses must be present for this ceremony, if nothing more than to give accountability to the couple. Modern pagans and wiccans have really brought this old time practice back to the forefront, with unique, beautiful rituals that borrow from several ancient customs.

Experiencing a vibrant resurgence and still traditionally rooted, handfasting is sure to become more mainstream among innovative couples from different walks of life seeking “something old” as they plan their big day.

Amazing Coming of Age Rituals

japanese coming of age

Amazing Coming of Age Rituals Around The World

 

One thing shared by many cultures around the globe: The transition from childhood to adulthood is important for both boys and girls. While different cultures express this remarkable moment differently, there is something nonetheless shared among all of them. The children themselves share a range of emotional responses, from absolute joy, to complete horror at an event they might perceive at the time as embarrassing.

 

This rite of passage can be expressed in a number of different ways. Then you have to consider that within a single culture, there can be also be differences between the genders. Taken as a whole, it is fascinating to see where these cultures share similarities, and where they divert sharply.

 

The Jewish Passage to Adulthood: Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Jewish boys celebrate their Bar Mitzvahs at the age of 13. Jewish girls celebrate their Bat Mitzvahs at the age of 12. This rite of passage establishes the commitment of a Jewish child to their faith. They must acknowledge that they will now be responsible for observing Jewish laws and traditions. Regardless of gender, the child is responsible for a good deal of work, in preparation for the big event. To celebrate their commitment to this work, and to celebrate the transition to adulthood, a large celebration is often held. Family and friends gather in great numbers to give gifts and praise, and to observe the ceremony that moves the child to the next stage of their life.

 

The Sateré-Mawé Passage To Adulthood: Bullet Ant Initiation

There is an indigenous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon known as the Sateré-Mawé. When young boys in this tribe turn thirteen, they mark this occasion with what is referred to as the Bullet Ant Initiation. The initiation involves taking numerous bullet ants, known for their brutal stings, and combining them with an herbal solution. The ants are then weaved into gloves, with their stingers pointing inwards. At this point, the boys will then wear the gloves for a period of 10 minutes. During this extremely painful period, even something as simple as crying out in pain will be seen as a sign of weakness. The boys are expected to wear the gloves several times, over the course of several months, before the ritual is considered finished.

 

The Hispanic Passage to Adulthood: Quinceanera

Throughout several parts of South and Central America, as well as in other countries which enjoy a large Hispanic population, young girls participate in a passage known as Quinceanera. This event occurs when the girls are fifteen years old. A Catholic mass is usually the first part of the occasion. During the mass, the young girl will renew the vows spoken at her baptism. The mass is meant to establish a profound foundation of the girl’s commitments to family and their faith. After this moment, the mass becomes a huge fiesta. Food and drink are served, gifts are given, and there is often dancing.

The American Passage to Adulthood: Sweet 16

For both young boys and young girls, turning 16 in the United States is a really big deal. This tradition is less rooted in a specific cultural background. Many different cultures throughout the United States mark a child turning sixteen as a significant occasion. Sometimes, a family’s religion will play a role in the proceedings. In other situations, a family may choose to combine a rite-of-passage from their culture/faith with the marking of the child’s sixteenth birthday. This is why this passage to adulthood is considered to be a little looser than some of the other passages highlighted here. Many children get to mark the occasion with a massive party, as well as gifts that are often considered to be extravagant. The Sweet 16 passage became something of a cultural phenomenon, thanks to the MTV show My Super Sweet 16.

girl's sweet 16

Khatam Al Koran Passage to Adulthood: Malaysia

Some Muslim girls throughout Malaysia mark their eleventh birthday as a very significant occasion. They may celebrate what is known as The Khatam Al Koran. Often held at the local mosque, this celebration indicates that the young girl in question has the ability to demonstrate their growing emotional maturity. This is expressed through a highly sacred ritual. In order to get ready for this ritual, many young girls will spend years getting ready to show what they have learned. They will review the Koran over and over again. On the big day, they will recite the final chapter before their family and other loved ones.

 

The Ethiopian Passage: Hamar Cow Jumping

Throughout Ethiopia, many young men choose a ceremony that proves they are ready for one of the most important rites of passage of their lives: marriage. In this ritual, a young man will strip off all of their clothes. Next, they will leap across a male cow that has been castrated. This effort must be completed four times in full. Through the efforts of this ritual, the Ethiopian man is indicating to those who attend that he is leaving his childhood behind. If they are successful in their efforts, they will become known as a Maza. This is the word used to describe the men who have passed the test successfully. After the ritual is successfully completed, the Maza may help to supervise other ceremonies along the region of Hamar.

 

The Japanese Passage: Seijin-no-Hi

For over twelve hundred years, this has been an important rite of passage for young Japanese men and women. Upon turning twenty, many Japanese youth will put on their very best traditional attire. They will then participate in a local ceremony at the city office in their area. With friends and family participating in the fun, the youth will receive gifts, and join a massive party. This is what is also known as the Coming of Age Festival. At this point in their lives, the men and women are now known as responsible, vital adults in their communities. This is also the age in which both men and women are allowed to not only vote, but to drink alcohol, as well.