Participating in cultural or religious ceremonies during your travels presents a unique privilege, offering a profound opportunity to explore traditions and practices that diverge from our everyday lives. However, it is crucial to approach these ceremonies with utmost respect, refraining from intruding or being overly intrusive with cameras. Instead, patiently await an invitation, whether it arises spontaneously or as part of a scheduled tour, and maintain a respectful demeanor throughout. In light of this, we have curated a selection of five remarkable ceremonies from around the world that we believe every traveler should have the chance to witness and partake in.
Below are sacred ceremonies around the world you should ever experience…
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1. Water purification ritual at the Tirta Empul temple in Bali
At the Tirta Empul temple near Tampaksiring, Balinese Hindus engage in a profound cleansing ritual. Built around a natural spring in the 10th century, this temple holds great significance to the Balinese people as the water is believed to be blessed by the god Indra. Regarded as one of the holiest temples in Indonesia, the jaba tengah area of the temple features bubbling springs that flow into two sacred purification pools through thirty ornamental spouts. Those seeking to perform the melukat ritual dip their heads under the waterspouts, patiently repeating the process under each one except two, which are reserved for cleansing the deceased. Following the cleansing, Balinese worshippers proceed to the Jeroan area to offer their prayers.
2. Champagne sabrage ritual at the St. Regis, New York
While not inherently sacred, the practice of champagne sabrage at the St. Regis Hotel in New York boasts a rich history. In 1904, upon the opening of the St. Regis Hotel, John Jacob Astor IV initiated a tradition involving a bottle of champagne and a small curved sword known as a saber. The choice of vintage is crucial, with a young champagne exerting the ideal pressure on the cork. With ceremonial precision, the sommelier unveils the sword, removing all traces of foil and discarding the wire cage. Gently running the saber along the neck of the bottle, they then raise the blade sharply. Meeting the glass at its weakest point, the pressure inside the bottle propels the cork elegantly, accompanied by applause. Interestingly, Astor likely borrowed this ceremony from Napoleon Bonaparte, who would celebrate or drown his sorrows after battles by wielding a sword and indulging in a bottle of fizz.
3. Japanese tea ceremony
The Japanese tea ceremony is a refined and symbolically rich occasion. Originating from the introduction of tea by the Chinese in the eighth century, tea-drinking gatherings became fashionable among the wealthy, showcasing beautiful tea bowls and the art of serving the perfect cup of tea. In the 16th century, Sen no Rikyu developed a simplified ceremony that emphasized spirituality, a tradition that continues today. During the ceremony, guests kneel seiza-style on tatami mats while the host meticulously prepares powdered tea. Etiquette plays a significant role, involving respectful bowing, deliberate sipping, and the artful rotation of the tea bowl. The way of tea, known as chadō, encompasses much more than a mere act of boiling water and using a teabag; it encapsulates a profound cultural practice.
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