This article describes the services of the world’s major religions which are (in no particular order):
The most common way in which Christians worship is by the taking of bread and wine. This is known as several names, Mass, Eucharist and Holy Communion. It usually takes place in a church. The purpose of the taking of bread and wine is to remember how Jesus ate the Last Supper with his disciples. The bread and wine is blessed before being taken by the congregation. The service is usually accompanied by the singing of hymns and readings from the Bible. A collection is held for the congregation to donate towards the upkeep of the church
Bhuddhists may be split into two distict group, Theravada Buddhists and Mahayana Buddhists. Theravada Buddhists originate from India, Sri Lanka, Myananar and Thailand. They traditionally worship in a temple where incense is burned and paper lanterns are lit. While worshipping they offer gifts to the Three Jewels, which are the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings) and the sanha (the monks). Flowers, incense sticks and small statues are traditionally offered as gifts and bells are rung during this gift-making.
The Mahayana Buddhists originate from China and Tibet and worship in pagoda styles buildings. These temples contain a set of prayer wheels, cylinders with prayers inscribe don them. Turning the wheels is believed to carry the prayers to all parts of the world. Many Mahayana Bhuddhists go to the temple to ask questions about the future. They do this by throwing two pieces of red wood onto the ground. Depending on how the pieces of wood land, the person takes a piece of paper or wood from a drawer and hands it to a priest who informs them of the answer.
The most important place of worship for a Hindu is his home where they will have a room or a corner of a room dedicated for worship. Traditionally they will place pictures or statues of their favourite gods or goddesses.
Carrying out the morning worship is the responsibility of the woman of the household. After praying she will offer flowers, incense, light and food to the gods. She will also dress a statue.This food is then eaten by the family. In the evening the light is lit and the whole family gathers to pray.
Hindus also worship in temples. These temples house statues that are dressed in different clothes for every day if the year. Food and flowers are offered an dincense burned while the priests chant. Food is given to the worshippers as they leave the temple. The service is made up of three parts, the kindling of the fire, the worship of the eight and the singing of the bhajans. The priest lights a sacred fire and sections of the Vedas are chanted. Then the arti tray is placed in front of the gods. A spot of red paste is then placed on the foreheads of the statues, on the pictures and on the worshippers whilst the arti tray is carried around the people. They hold their hands over the fire and then pass their hands over their foreheads and hair. Food is then given to the worshippers and hymns sung.
Muslims worship in a mosque. In Muslim countries these are usually square buildings with a dome on top. Water is provided outside the mosque for worshippers to wash before praying. The mosque will have one or more tall towers known as minarets from which the muezzin will call the people to pray. All Muslims must pray to God (Allah) five times a day, having washed. This is to ensure they are clean and pure for prayer. Having washed, the worshippers face in the direction of the Kabba in Mecca. This is a shrine in the city of Mecca that contains a holy Black Stone.
Muslims pray in a variety of positions, standing, kneeling and touching the ground with their foreheads, using a prayer mat to ensure that the place of prayer is clean and to keep the body clean while praying.
All Muslim men are expected to go to the mosque for midday prayers on Friday, where the Iman delivers his sermon. This is given in two parts, firstly he deals with matters of everyday life and secondly then discusses a passage from the Qur’an.
Sikhs worship in a temple called a gurdwara. In the centre of the gurdwara is a throne known as a takht which is covered with a canopy. The Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib is placed on this throne. On entering the gurdwara the worshippers remove their shoes. They then place money, food or a romalla (a cloth to cover the Guru Granth Sahib) in front of the takht. The men wear turbans and the women wear silk scarves while worshipping cross-legged. Men and women must sit apart. The leader of the worship, the Granthi reads from the Guru Granth Sahib. Hymns are sung and this is followed by a sermon, more singing, readings and prayers. The service is given in Punjabi.
At the end of the service everyone shares karah parshad, a mixture of semolina, ghee, sugar and flour to show that they are all equal. The service is completed by a meal provided by the guru, called the langar