The World of Rituals

The coronation of a king in the Middle Ages, a virtual church service on Second Life, Valentine’s Day in New Delhi – what have all these occasions in common? They are all informed by rituals, by actions that extend beyond everyday life and in that way transcend and elevate it. Rituals can legitimise power, create identity and offer therapeutic help in crises. Rituals can also help people to structure time and space and give meaning to their lives. The researchers at the Heidelberg Collaborative Research Centre "Ritual Dynamics want to find out what meaning the rituals have in a particular culture: can in fact differing rituals from far-removed cultures even be compared with one another, and should they even be rendered comparable?

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The World of Rituals: Episode 03, 13/08/2011

Purification Rituals in Mediaeval Judaism


Plunging into the Middle Ages: Jewish immersion baths or mikvehs, as they are called, were used for ritual purification and, together with the synagogue, were the centre of religious life in the Middle Ages. Why was the ritual bath so important for both the individual and the community? In order to find this out, in today?s episode our researchers in Heidelberg are studying ancient manuscripts.

At a glance

University/Institution: University of Heidelberg
Field of Research: Assyriology , East Asian Art History, Egyptology, English Studies, History, Indology, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Medical Psychology, Musicology, Religious Studies, Southasian Ethnology, Theology
Location: Armenia, Austria, Brazil, China, Egypt, England, France, Greece, Heidelberg, India, Iraq (Mesopotamia), Israel, Italy, Japan, Marocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey
Episodes: 8
Season/Year: 2011
Status: Finished
Topics: Judaism, middle ages, religion, jewish studies, hebrew, bath, mikveh

The World of Rituals

Landmarks, pivots for meanings, sources of consolation, organisers of time and space - why do we need rituals and ceremonies?

Initiation rituals in Nepal

A fruit as a groom? Nine year old Newar girl Lipisa is celebrating her bridal consecration: Today she will be symbolically married to a god. What role does the bel fruit play in this?

Political Rituals in Late Antiquity

From England to Africa, from the Atlantic to the Euphrates: The East Roman Empire covered an enormous expanse. Our researchers want to find out: what function did political rituals assume in its administration?

Purification Rituals in Mediaeval Judaism

Plunging into the Middle Ages: Jewish immersion baths or mikvehs formed the centre of religious life back then. What is at the back of this ritual bathing?

Purification Rituals in Mediaeval Judaism

Subterranean Monuments: Today the team is setting off for the old mikveh in Friedberg. At a depth of up to 25 metres they are going to look for mediaeval inscriptions. What will the researchers find under the water?

The Road to the Crown - Rising to the Throne in Mediaeval Times

What modern-day rappers have in common with mediaeval kings is the subject of today's episode by historian Andreas Büttner.

Youth Cultures and their Rituals in India

All you need is... rituals? Valentine's Day has only been celebrated in the Indian metropolis of New Delhi for about ten years. This week the anthropologist Christiane Brosius tells us why the day for lovers exerts a very special attraction on young Indians.

Ritual Research in virtual worlds

ROFL, LOL, PRAY: even amid the infinite vistas of the Internet, people feel a yearning for the old familiar, customary things? Rituals. The researchers Nadja Miczek and Simone Heidbrink take us on a virtual journey.
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