Secular rituals are patterned forms of behavior with no connection to the supernatural realm. Some examples might be graduation, a Girls Scout meeting, a common-law wedding or a club initiation ritual. Anthropologists of religion categorize rituals in many ways. One division is based on how regularly the ritual is performed. Regularly performed rituals are called periodic rituals. Many periodic rituals are performed annually to mark a seasonal milestone such as planting or harvesting or to commemorate some important event. Buddha Day, an important periodic ritual in Buddhism, commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. On this day, Buddhists gather at monasteries, hear sermons about the Buddha, and perform rituals suchas pouring water over the images of the Buddha.Nonperiodic rituals, in contrast, occur irregularly, or to mark events in a person’s life such as illness, infertility, birth, marriage or death. A life-cycle ritual marks a change in status from one life stage to another of an individual or group. Anthropologist Victor Turner’s fieldwork in the 1960s among the Ndembu provides insights about the phases of life-cycle rituals. Turner found that, among these horticulturalists and cross-culturally, life-cycle rituals have three phases: separation, transition, and reintegration.In the first phase, the person undergoing the ritual is separated physically, socially or symbolically from normal life. The person may wear special clothes to visually mark their separation from the group. In some cases, the person may be secluded in an area away from the normal residence area of the group.The transition phase, or liminal phase, is the time when the person is no longer in the previous status but is not yet a member of the next stage. Liminality often involves the learning of specialized skills that will equip the person for the new status.Reintegration, the last stage, occurs when the initiate emerges and is welcomed by the community in the new status.Other ritual practices include pilgrimage, rituals of inversion and sacrifice.A pilgrimage is round-trip travel to a sacred place or places for purposes of religious devotion or ritual. Pilgrimage often involves hardship, with the implication that the more suffering that is involved, the more merit the pilgrim accumulates. Compared to a weekly trip to church or synagogue, pilgrimage removes a person further from everyday life, is more demanding and therefore is potentially more transformative.Carnival, is a ritual of inversion, a ritual where normal social roles and relations are relaxed or inverted. It is widely celebrated in Southern Europe and the Western Hemisphere and is a period of riotous celebration before the Christian fast of Lent. The practices observed during
Carnival illustrate that rituals of inversion allow people for a short time to act out roles that are normally denied them. This may act as a way for maintaining social order and releasing social pressure. After a few days of fun, mocking traditional social roles or engaging in theatrical critiques of local politics, everyone returns to his or her original place for another year.