Problem

Ritual pollution

Other Names:
Ceremonial uncleanness
Ritual impurity
Death pollution
Nature:
A condition resulting from association with blood (menstrual, parturitional, placental, accidental or shed in murder or battle), death and birth. It also results under certain circumstances, whether in limited areas or at particular times, from association with certain foods and drinks, colours, places, seasons, trees, rocks and even persons.
Background:
Remedies for ritual impurity, have involved and, in many societies and religions, continue to involve the performance of some ceremony which variously includes sacrifice, washing, anointing, sprinkling, burning, or cutting. The guilt of an individual or a whole tribe may also be transferred to a scapegoat who is driven off or even killed.
Incidence:
Ritual pollution is a condition of major concern in certain cultures, possibly under the influence of particular religions, such as Islam and Judaism. It is a determining factor in the reinforcement of the caste system in India. Hindu priests burned 1,764 lbs of clarified butter, 6,630 lbs of edible oil seeds, 3,315 lbs of rice, 1,547 lbs of barley and 830 lbs of sugar as sacrificial offering to 640 million deities and had conch shells blown at local temples in order to purify the atmosphere and provide salvation for the souls of the Bhopal industrial disaster.

In Japan, ritual uncleanliness resulted from contact with unsanitary things, human blood, human or animal death, natural disasters, disturbed life in human society, and incest or bestiality. For example, sumo wrestlers claim their ring to be part of sacred Shinto rituals of the sport and no women are permitted to enter it as their touch would soil it. In certain Chinese sub-cultures death pollution is a major concern, as with many South American Indians where mourners must undergo purification after funerals. In its relationship to the system of taboos prevalent in tribal cultures, the condition is of widespread concern.

Broader Problems:
Taboo
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET