Portal:Religion
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Portal:Religion
For a topic outline on this subject, see Outline of religion

Introduction

Symbols of various religions of the world.

Religion may be defined as a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from the divine, sacred things, faith, a supernatural being or supernatural beings or "some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life". Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.

There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, but about 84% of the world's population is affiliated with one of the five largest religion groups, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or forms of folk religion. The religiously unaffiliated demographic includes those who do not identify with any particular religion, atheists and agnostics. While the religiously unaffiliated have grown globally, many of the religiously unaffiliated still have various religious beliefs.

The study of religion encompasses a wide variety of academic disciplines, including theology, comparative religion and social scientific studies. Theories of religion offer various explanations for the origins and workings of religion, including the ontological foundations of religious being and belief.

Selected article

Faravahar, The depiction of the Human soul before birth and after death.
Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra, Zartosht). Mazdaism is the religion that acknowledges the divine authority of Ahura Mazda, proclaimed by Zoroaster to be the one uncreated Creator of all (God). As demonstrated by Zoroastrian creed and articles of faith, the two terms are effectively synonymous.

Other basic beliefs include creation is attacked by violence and destruction. The resulting conflict involves the entire universe, including humanity, which has an active role to play in the conflict. Ahura Mazda will ultimately prevail, at which point time will end. Active participation in life through good thoughts, good words and good deeds are necessary to ensure happiness and to keep the chaos at bay. There is a concept of free will, to decide whether to perform good thoughts, words and deeds.

Zoroastrianism was once the dominating religion of much of Western- and Central Asia but is today practiced only by a small worldwide community, with its largest center in India.

Selected image

A typical presentation of the star and crescent
Credit: Kbolino

The star and crescent is a symbol consisting of a crescent with a star at the concave side. In its modern form, the star is usually shown with five points (though in earlier centuries a higher number of points was often used). The two signs together or the crescent only is often regarded as a symbol of Islam.

Selected religious figure or deity

Depiction of Aravan, worshiped at Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore
Iravan (Aravan) is a minor character from the Hindu epic of Mahabharata. The son of Pandava prince Arjuna (one of the main heroes of the Mahabharata) and the Naga princess Ulupi, Iravan is the central god of the cult of Kuttantavar and plays a major role in the cult of Draupadi. Both these cults are of South Indian origin, from a region of the country where he is worshipped as a village deity. The Mahabharata portrays Iravan as dying a heroic death in the 18-day Kurukshetra War, the epic's main subject. However, the South Indian cults have a supplementary tradition of honouring Iravan's self-sacrifice to the goddess Kali to ensure her favour and the victory of the Pandavas in the war. The South Indian cult focus on three boons granted to Iravan by the god Krishna in honour of this self-sacrifice. Iravan is also a patron god of well-known Indian transgender communities called Ali. In Koovagam, Tamil Nadu, an 18-day festival holds a ceremonial marriage of Iravan to Alis and male villagers and followed then by their "widowhood" after ritual re-enactment of Iravan's sacrifice. Iravan is also known in Indonesia. Independent Javanese traditions present a dramatic marriage of Irawan to Titisari, daughter of Krishna, and a death resulting from a case of mistaken identity.

Did you know...

  • ...that Wicca was previously an Old English word (pronounced: 'witcha'), meaning a male witch or wizard and 'wicce' was a female witch?

Selected quote

Bahai star
O SON OF SPIRIT!

My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.

O SON OF BEING!
Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.

O SON OF DUST!
Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.

-- Bahá'u'lláh, the Kalimat-i-Maknunih

Selected scripture

Ayyavazhi
Akilattirattu Ammanai ? ? (Tamil: akilam (world) + thirattu (collection) + ammanai (ballad)), also called Thiru Edu (venerable book), is the main religious book of the Southern Indian religion Ayyavazhi, officially considered as an offshoot of Hinduism. The title is often abbreviated to Akilam.

According to the book, Akilam, Hari Gopalan Citar wrote this book on the twenty-seventh day of the Tamil month of Karthikai (November/December) in the year 1841 CE. The author claims that God woke him up during his sleep and commissioned him to take dictation from what he said. Akilathirattu was recorded on palm leaves until 1939, when it was given printed form.

Akilam is in two parts; the first is an account of the ages preceding that of the present age, the Kali Yukam, and the second is an account of the activities of Ayya Vaikundar leading up to his attaining Vaikundam.

Akilathirattu is written as a poem in the Tamil language. The narration alternates between two subgenres called viruttam and natai. Both subgenres employ many poetic devices like alliteration and hyperbatons. It contains more than 15,000 lines making up seventeen section.

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