Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Eleonora A. Lundell and Marja-Liisa Honkasalo
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In Buddhist Burma, a variety of ritual has been found pertaining to quite differentiated aspects of religion. This rich ritual landscape remains under-examined due partly to the Buddhist-studies bias of most of the scholars looking at religion in Burma. In this paper, I develop comparative analysis of a class of ritual, namely that of initiation, in three components of Burmese religion: Buddhist monasticism, Buddhist esotericism, and spirit worship. At least from the present analytic perspective, the three components considered could be taken as encompassing the entire Buddhist religious sphere in Burma. Looking at initiation rituals in these three ‘paths’ is a means of understanding how they frame contrasting kinds of differently valued religious practice, and of showing that, although not often discussed, rituals do matter in Burma because they help to distinguish categories of action according to their relative religiosity. By doing so, I aim to give a sense of the real diversity of the Burmese ritual landscape, which until recently was rarely taken into account, and to contribute to the on-going debate in the field of Buddhist studies on what could be encapsulated as the question of Buddhism and spirit cults in Southeast Asian Theravada.
In this article, we outline the meanings modern Wixárika institutions, such as the school and the museum, may receive as parts of ritual landscape and how the community-based videos shot in the context of these institutions may increase our understanding of ritual landscapes in general. We discuss how ritual landscape can be researched using community-based documentary video art in a way that takes the ontological conceptions of the human and non-human relations of the community seriously. In this case, we understand community-based video art as artistic research in which the work is produced with the community for the community. The making of art, discussed in this article, is a bodily activity as it includes walking with a camera in the Wixárika ritual landscape, interviewing people for the camera, and documenting the work and rituals of the pupils, teachers, and the mara’akate (shaman-priests) planning the community-based museum.
The purpose of this article is to examine Khanty spatial ritual behaviour in the context of the simultaneous application of different ideas about sacred landscape. I aim to demonstrate the functional pattern behind handling seemingly ambivalent characteristics of cosmological models in the tangible ritual performance of the Khanty, an indigenous people inhabiting the taiga and forest taiga zone of Western Siberia. I explore three cases in which the concept of sacred topography is applied among the Khanty by exploring two public ceremonies of reindeer sacrifice and one episode of a post-funeral rite. It appeared that the spatial conceptualisation is different in different rituals. During sacrificial ceremonies, the Khanty position the Upper World in the southern direction, while in the case of death rituals, the Upper World is projected towards upstream of a river, even if it remains in the north. Studying different spatial orientations during rituals provides a methodological key for approaching other concepts of vernacular belief among Siberian indigenous communities.
In this work I analyse the ethnographic case study of the icon of Our Lady of the Wall as establishing a unique ritual landscape among the cement slabs of the Israeli-Palestinian Wall separating Jerusalem from Bethlehem. Although the Wall has been widely described as a technology of occupation on one side and as a device to ensure security on the other, through Latour’s concept of assemblages I unearth its agency in developing a Christian shrine. Through a decade of weekly recitations of the Rosary along the Wall near Checkpoint 300, the Elizabethan nuns of the Caritas Baby Hospital have been invoking Mary’s help to dismantle the Wall. This weekly ritual represents both political dissent against the bordering action enacted by the Wall, as well as giving visibility to the plea of the Palestinian Christian right to live in this territory in the face of their status as an ethnoreligious minority.