Ritual Art: Dance, Music and Nature Gods

There are vast numbers of ritual art in the globe. Almost every nation and culture has, one as unique as the other. Dance and music play very vital roles in this kind of art. They are used to express the people’s gratitude of blessings from their gods. One very good example is the people of Manipur. Manipur is a very fertile land in India surrounded by mountains. The people here believe that music and dance are the most natural ways in expressing their feelings. In fact, almost all the important occasions in their life has a certain dance or song attached to it which is dedicated in praise to their god.

The lai haraoba is one of the oldest rituals in Manipur which happens after the process of the creation. In this ritual, men and women who are actually the priests and priestesses of the Manipur called maibas and maibis carry banners and offerings in the river with their white and pink stripped garments. They dip leaves in the river to invoke energy and then do the special dance three times from the river to their temple. More rituals are performed after this ceremony. This just serves as proof that dance and music are very important in these rituals.

They are actually believed to bring prosperity to the place and to the people living in it. (2007b) The performing arts on India and its close association to religion, philosophy, and mythology gave it a mystical quality that gave itself an image of connection with their gods. This blend of religion, dance, drama and music has lasted for centuries and centuries to the point that even temples actively played their part in the advance of performing arts. (Ramakrishnan, 2007) The ritual art of the Mayas are also very interesting.

Some of the most important elements in the Maya rituals are bloodletting and sacrifices. Some murals were discovered showing kings puncturing themselves with lancers and thorns. Ears, genitals, and tongue bloodletting were the most popular method wherein the blood was then collected in strips of cloth and then burned for the gods. The Mayans believe that the gods also practice bloodletting to maintain the peacefulness in the cosmos. (2007c) Rituals are also very important in the Tibetan religion.

They have daily ceremonies done in temples and other places for a vast number of purposes. Some of this are not as elaborate as those of Indian rituals but reflects the Tibetan religion’s practical side instead. Throughout the year, special rituals are also conducted to give praise to the deities, asking for rain, good harvest, and absence of hailstorms for that particular year. Ceremonies are also done to the exorcising of demons and evil spirits as well as to gain peacefulness of the mind and ego.

All of these are done, of course, with music and dance. (2001) Another interesting collection of the pantheon of gods is of course the very popular Greek mythology. There are twelve principal gods in the collection of the Greek pantheon. The most famous are Zeus, the father of the gods, Hera her wife, Hades and Poseidon who reined the realm of the sea and the underworld, Artemis the goddess of hunting, Apollo the god of music and prophecy and Aphrodite the goddess of love.

The most popular rituals of the Greeks are animal sacrifices of sheep, goats and oxen. The rituals and ceremonies are done in the god’s respective sanctuaries in front of their altars. The four most important festivals were done every four years at Olympia, Delphi, Nemea, and Isthmia. (2007a) These are just some of the examples of the beautiful and rich variations of ritual arts around the world. All are different in their own ways yet their aims are all the same. To display and preserve the wonders of their cultures.