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An Introduction to Shinto Rituals

The rituals that people follow in relation to their religion play an important in their everyday life. To get an idea of how the rituals are performed at a grand festival of the Shinto faith, consider the following components, which includes practices, like purification rites, the offering of food, and prayer:

Purification Rites (harae): Typically, the purification rites are held at a corner of the shrine precincts right before participants enter the shrine. At other times, the rites are performed inside of the shrine before the start of a ceremony.

Adoration: Bowing to the altar is a practice that the chief priest and all the congregation participate in.

The chief priest opens the door to the inner sanctuary.

Food offerings are then presented and usually consist of sake wine, rice cakes, fish, seaweed, vegetables, salt, water, and rice. It is important to not that animal meat is not offered at this time because it is forbidden to shed blood within sacred surroundings. It was customary in the past for Shintoists to offer cooked food to Kami, but the present day sees uncooked food mostly used.

Prayer: Using ancient Shinto prayers as a guide, the chief priest recites prayers (also known as norito), which possess a history that dates back to the early 10th century. Today, the old beliefs are still embraced, where spoken words carry a high level of spiritual influence.

Sacred music and dance plays an important role during Shinto rituals.

General Offering: During Shinto festivals, it is not uncommon for participants to make symbolic offerings. Little branches taken from an evergreen scared tree, where strips of white paper are tied

After the general offering has passed, the offerings are then taken away.

The door to the inner sanctuary is closed shut.

Final adoration then takes place.

Feast: Also known as naorai, a short sermon or speech is delivered before the feast, which has become a popular practice amongst Shintoists since World War II.

Additional Facts Regarding Shinto Religious Practices

1.    Festivals are held at local shrines, which become a concentrated part of the overall community.

2.    Most every home of a Shintoist has a Kamidana, which is a shelf devoted to the Kami goddess. Daily offerings and worship takes place at this shelf.

3.    A Shintoist sees the beauty in nature and wishes to respect it to the fullest. They see the presence of their deities in an array of living things, including rivers, thunder, stones, trees, waterfalls, mountains, and valleys.

4.    During moments of worship, the Kami is seen as a mystical being that is of the utmost importance.

5.    Shintoists also pay homage to ancestral and guardian spirits. The spirits of national heroes are also worshipped during offerings and prayer.

6.    Other rites associated with the Shinto faith include Jotosai (a rite performed during the construction of a building) and Shinsosai (the ceremony performed during a funeral).