Most religions have “rites of passage” or “life-cycle rituals” associated with the various stages in human life. These rituals are most commonly associated with birth, adolescence, adulthood, marriage, and death
(or some variation of these). For this essay, explore one religious life-cycle ritual as expressed in two different
religions studied in the first half of this course: Buddhism and Hinduism.
Discuss one life-cycle ritual. The most prominent examples to choose
from include birth rituals, coming-of-age rituals, weddings, and funerals. The choice is yours; just make sure
it is a life-cycle ritual and not another type of religious ritual. Remember, life-cycle rituals are associated
with the transitional periods of human life.
RELIGIONS – The life-cycle ritual chosen will be discussed in the context of Buddhism and Hinduism. For example, you could present some of the birth rituals of
Hinduism and Shinto; or perhaps some coming-of-age rituals of the Lakota and Yoruba. The point here is
that your selected life-cycle ritual is discussed in the context of two of the religions from the first half of the
course. The choice of these religions is yours, but make sure the religions you choose actually participate in
that life-cycle ritual. For example, Confucianism and Daoism have very few life-cycle rituals that are
separate from Buddhism. Allow your research to guide your choices regarding religions for this analysis.
CONTENT – For your analysis, you should describe the various activities, events, observances, and beliefs
associated with the life-cycle ritual for each of your two chosen religions. For example, are there specific
activities, props, and/or dietary aspects associated with the event? Does the person receive anything as a part
of the ritual? Is there anything done to the physical body as a sign of the ritual? To what extent does the
religious community participate? Have the events secularized in modern times? Are the celebrations publicly-observed or isolated in the religious communities? Are there variations of activities, events, observances,
and beliefs based on geographical or divisional/denominational differences? You will find in your research
that there are a variety of different practices associated with life-cycle rituals that will be geographically or
divisionally specific. In other words, what they do in India is different from what they do in Japan; or the
practices of Mahayana Buddhists differ from that of Theravada Buddhists. In these situations, you should
isolate your conversation to one specific group (identifying in your essay the group you are focusing on for
each religion). Not everything above applies in all situations; these are just some ideas of what to consider
as you prepare to write this essay. Deductions of up to 30 points will be made for errors related to the LifeCycle Rituals, Religions, and Content categories (outlined above).
STRUCTURE – This paper should be done in a traditional essay format that includes: an introductory paragraph
discussing the religious concept of life-cycle rituals and what you intend to explore (the life-cycle ritual you
have chosen and the religions you intend to explore); two or three paragraphs presenting what is outlined
in the “Content” category above (I suggest separate paragraphs for each of your religions); a conclusion
paragraph summarizing the content and/or noting the primary similarities and difference among the
religions explored; and then a bibliography of sources consulted (see below).
RESEARCH – You are expected to do academic research for this assignment. This is not an opinion paper, it
is a research paper. To that end, consult and cite multiple sources (at least 3, but you really should have
more) to illustrate depth of research. These academic or scholarly sources should be peer-reviewed journal
articles or books (library resources), primary sources (sacred literature and official religious documents)