30 December 2007

Holy Water

Some Roman Catholics believe that water from Lourdes and other holy wells and shrines have supernatural powers, such as for healing. This water, technically, is not holy water in the same sense as traditional holy water since it has not been consecrated by a priest or bishop. Other Christian groups have sold water from the Jordan River and called it holy water as well, since this is the location of the baptism of the Christ.

In the Orthodox Church there have been many miraculous springs of water throughout the centuries, some of which still flow to this day, such as the one at Pochaev Lavra in Ukraine, and the Life-Giving Spring of the Theotokos in Constantinople (commemorated on Bright Friday).

Many Muslims believe that water from the The Well of Zamzam in Mecca is divinely blessed. It is also believed to have supernatural properties.

The Sikhs prepare holy water, which is called amrit, and used in a ritual Sikh baptism.

Among the Mandaeans, baptism is the central sacrament of their religious life.

Though the term "Holy water" is not used, the idea of blessed water is also used among Buddhists. Water is put in to a new pot and kept near a Paritrana ceremony, a blessing for protection. Thai 'Lustral water' can be created in a ceremony in which the burning and extinction of a candle above the water represents the elements of earth, fire, and air.[2] This water is later given to the people to be kept in their home. Not only water but also oil and strings are blessed in this ceremony. Bumpa, a ritual object, is one of the Ashtamangala, used for storing sacred water sometimes, symbolizing wisdom and long life in Vajrayana Buddhism. Kundika is the version in Korean Buddhism [3], [4] whereas the vase of holy dew is known to Chinese and Japanese Buddhism [5],[6].

Notes:
  1. Saint John (Maximovitch), On Holy Water.
  2. Buddhism in Thailand: Lustral Water.
  3. Smithsonian Institution. Buddhist ritual sprinkler (kundika).
  4. The British Museum. Stoneware kundika (water sprinkler).
  5. Harvard College and Diana Eck. Chua Bo De Buddhist Temple.
  6. Red Maple Connection. Goddess of Mercy.
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