By Austin Emaduku
Yesterday afternoon, I took a ride with a couple of friends to my maternal grandmother’s village to render assistance over an issue.
Along the way, we saw a group of Igbe traditional worshipers performing some religious rituals similar to the one depicted in this picture in a stream. The three of us in the vehicle are Christians or at least profes the Christian faith. One of us on sighting the worshipers started off demonising and pouring expletives on the worshipers and their mode of worship.
As often happens when I witness such occurrences, my training as a philosopher and study of comparative religion kicked in. Without saying a word, I immediately started, in my mind, to draw a parallel between the mode and rituals of their worship and those of other religions, especially Christianity.
Later that night on Facebook, I came across these pictures of a Christian cleric and members of his flock performing similar rituals in a stream.
The picture of the Igbe worshipers from earlier immediately flashed across my mind and I reasoned that my friend will have no issues at all with this kind of ritual by people of his faith but will be if a people dressed in Igbe worshipers attires were found similarly performing certain rituals of their religion
It is a widely held belief amongst Christians that members of other faiths especially, Igbe worshipers who perform rituals near any body of water do so to offer sacrifices to and to worship the water goddess. Yet we see members of different Christian denominations, even of the most virulent kind go to the river side to perform Christian rituals and to offer prayers without negative labelling.
As a matter of fact, the liturgical vessels and rituals of the Christian religion and of other faiths especially, the African religion bears great similarities when viewed without bias through the prism of tolerance as can be seen from some of the attached pictures.
Faith and belief in the supernatural is inherent in every human being because it helps to situate and explain man’s place and helplessness in a complex world. Every race and people on earth have belief in the supernatural. This belief is interwoven with their, religion, culture and way of life. From religion comes Prayer. Prayer is elixir. It can heal and uplift mentally and the physically but it has to be offered from the purest of hearts and intentions.
Religion is good because man is essentially a religious being – physical and spiritual. The belief in the supernatural which is the root of all religion is native to every tribe and race on earth and religion caters to the spiritual needs of man. The world will however be more peaceful and livable and the hereafter a happier place, if all adherence of faith could learn to tolerate one another.
This can only be possible if only, all people of faith could just take a moment and a step back to study the origin and foundation of their religion. They will then be better positioned to understand and show tolerance towards the belief of others. Without foundational knowledge, followership is uniformed and faith is truly and literally blind.
God is vast. He is very vast indeed. Praise be to His Name