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A shrine (Latin: scrinium "case or chest for books or papers"; Old French: escrin "box or case") is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated. A shrine at which votive offerings are made is called an altar. Shrines are found in many of the world's religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese folk religion, Shinto, and Asatru as well as in secular and non-religious settings such as a war memorial. Shrines can be found in various settings, such as churches, temples, cemeteries, or in the home, although portable shrines are also found in some cultures.
A shrine may become a focus of a cult image.
- 1 Types of shrines
- 2 Religious shrines
- 3 Secular shrines
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Types of shrines
Many shrines are located within buildings and in the temples designed specifically for worship, such as a church in Christianity, or a mandir in Hinduism. A shrine here is usually the centre of attention in the building, and is given a place of prominence. In such cases, adherents of the faith assemble within the building in order to venerate the deity at the shrine. In classical temple architecture, the shrine may be synonymous with the cella.
Historically, in Hinduism, Buddhism and Roman Catholicism, and also in modern faiths, such as Neopaganism, a shrine can commonly be found within the home or shop. This shrine is usually a small structure or a setup of pictures and figurines dedicated to a deity that is part of the official religion, to ancestors or to a localised household deity.
Small household shrines are very common among the Chinese and people from South and Southeast Asia, whether Hindu, Buddhist or Christian. Usually a small lamp and small offerings are kept daily by the shrine. Buddhist household shrines must be on a shelf above the head; Chinese shrines must stand directly on the floor.
Small outdoor yard shrines are found at the bottom of many peoples gardens, following various religions, including historically, Christianity. Many consist of a statue of Christ or a saint, on a pedestal or in an alcove, while others may be elaborate booths without ceilings, some include paintings, statuary, and architectural elements, such as walls, roofs, glass doors and ironwork fences, etc.
In the United States, some Christians have small yard shrines; some of these resemble side altars, since they are composed of a statue placed in a niche or grotto; this type is colloquially referred to as a bathtub madonna.
Shrines are found in most, though not all, religions. As distinguished from a temple, a shrine usually houses a particular relic or cult image, which is the object of worship or veneration, or is constructed to set apart a site which is thought to be particularly holy, as opposed to being placed for the convenience of worshippers. Shrines therefore attract the practice of pilgrimage.
In the Roman Catholic Code of Canon law, canons 1230 and 1231 read: "The term shrine means a church or other sacred place which, with the approval of the local Ordinary, is by reason of special devotion frequented by the faithful as pilgrims. For a shrine to be described as national, the approval of the Episcopal Conference is necessary. For it to be described as international, the approval of the Holy See is required."
Another use of the term "shrine" in colloquial Catholic terminology is a niche or alcove in most – especially larger – churches used by parishioners when praying privately in the church. They were also called Devotional Altars, since they could look like small Side Altars or bye-altars. Shrines were always centered on some image of Christ or a saint – for instance, a statue, painting, mural or mosaic, and may have had a reredos behind them (without a Tabernacle built in).
However, Mass would not be celebrated at them; they were simply used to aid or give a visual focus for prayers. Side altars, where Mass could actually be celebrated, were used in a similar way to shrines by parishioners. Side altars were specifically dedicated to The Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph as well as other saints.
A nativity set could also be viewed as a shrine, as the definition of a shrine is any holy or sacred place.
According to the classical chief sources of legislation and jurisprudence in orthodox Sunni Islam, primarily the Quran and Hadith texts (and notably the practice of the Sunni school of thought and early Muslims), it is understood to be allowed to build shrine over graves. However the Salafi based on the legal evidence where Muhammad ordered to demolish all the structures over graves and forbade acts of worship at the graveyards.* It was narrated that Abu’l-Hayaaj al-Asadi said: ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib said to me: “Shall I not send you on the same mission as the Messenger of Allah sent me? Do not leave any statue without erasing it, and do not leave any raised grave without leveling it.” Yet the Sunni and most[vague] Islamic Scholars say that this is a wrong interpretation of the Hadith.
Although classically in orthodox Islam it is prohibited to worship or engage in acts of worship surrounding graves; various movements and sects took the stance that it is permitted to supplicate with the 'Tawasul' or intercession of the deceased pious person (Sufi/Wali). For these groups, shrines hold a notable position and considered as places to seek spiritual guidance. Most venerated commemorate his life. In several countries, the local shrine is a focal point of the community, with several localities named specifically for the local saint.Also known as darbar, dargah, mahal pak, etc.
In some parts of the Islamic world, such as in Pakistan, these festivals are multi-day events and even draw members of the Hindu and Christian minority who often revere the Muslim saint, such as in the case of the famous Lal Baz Qalandar shrine in Sindh, Pakistan – an important example of religious synchronisation that blurs the distinction between members of different religions. Sufi shrines in Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan are also host to a night of commemoration by Mehfil Samaaa (Qawali) and 'Zikr' every Thursday. Some academics assert that such practices were influenced by Hinduism long ago when Muslims and Hindus co-existed in the sub-continent.
In Turkey, the famous Sufi Whirling Dervishes perform their whirling at the shrine of Jalal-ud-Din Rumi in Konya, while in Morocco and Algeria, brotherhoods of Black African Sufis, the Gnouia, perform elaborate songs at the shrines of their Saints.
Numerous shrines were once located in Saudi Arabia in its initial days. However, due to the revival of puritanism in favour of Islamic orthodoxy by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (strongly clinging to the Hadith texts and Quran) against developed cultural practices they were destroyed by local authorities who identified them as sources of Shirk and of being reprehensible innovations in Islam or 'Bid‘ah'. Other important Shrines were once found in Central Asia, but many were destroyed by the Soviets.
Shia's have several shrines dedicated to various religious figures important in their history, and several elaborate shrines are dedicated to Shia Saints and religious figures, most notably in Kerbala, Najaf, and Samarra in Iraq, and Qum and Mashad in Iran. Other important Shia shrines are located in Mazar-e-Sharif ("the Noble Shrine") in Afghanistan, and in Damascus, Syria.
Opposition to shrines
Although shrines are prevalent in many parts of the Muslim world, conservative Muslims do not condone the practice of visiting and building shrines. Many shrines have been demolished arousing the opposition of practitioners of Sufism. Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Al Azhar, has criticized the destruction of shrines and public property as unacceptable, as has the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of the Islamic Research Centre of Egypt.
The two most well-known Bahá'í shrines serve as the resting places for the respective remains of the two central figures of the Bahá'í Faith, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. They are the focal points of a Bahá'í pilgrimage:
In Buddhism, a shrine refers to a place where veneration is focused on the Buddha or one of the bodhisattvas. Monks, nuns and laypeople all give offerings to these revered figures at these shrines and also meditate in front of them.
Typically, Buddhist shrines contain a statue of either the Buddha, or (in the Mahayana and Vajrayana forms of Buddhism), one of the various bodhisattvas. They also commonly contain candles, along with offerings such as flowers, purified water, food, and incense. Many shrines also contain sacred relics, such as the alleged tooth of the Buddha held at a shrine in Sri Lanka.
In Germanic paganism, types of shrines were employed, but terms for the shrines show some level of ambiguity:
- Hörgrs, which may have originally exclusively referred to "holy places", whereas its Old English cognate hearg could mean "holy grove" and/or "temple, idol"
- Vés (Old Norse) or wēohs (Old English), referring to either a types of shrines or sacred enclosures. The term appears in skaldic poetry and in place names in Scandinavia (with the exception of Iceland), often in connection with a Norse deity or a geographic feature. The name of the Norse god Vé, refers to the practice.
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In Hinduism, a shrine is a place where a god or goddess is worshipped. Shrines are typically located inside a temple known as a mandir, though many Hindus also have a household shrine as well. Sometimes a human is venerated at a Hindu shrine along with a deity, for instance the 19th century religious teacher Sri Ramakrishna is venerated at the Ramakrishna Temple in Kolkata, India.
Central to a Hindu shrine is a statue of a deity, which is known as a murti. Hindus believe that the deity that they are worshiping actually enters and inhabits the murti. This is given offerings like candles, food, flowers, and incense. In some cases, particularly among devotees of the goddess Kālī in northern India, animals are sacrificed to the deity.
At a mandir, the congregation often assembles in front of a shrine, and, led by priests, give offerings and sing devotional hymns.
The line between a temple and a shrine in Taoism is not fully defined; shrines are usually smaller versions of larger Taoist temples or small places in a home where a yin-yang emblem is placed among peaceful settings to encourage meditation and study of Taoist texts and principles. Taoists place less emphasis on formalized attendance and ritualized worship than other Asian religions; formal temples and structures of worship came about in Taoism mostly in order to prevent losing adherents to Buddhism. Frequent features of Taoist shrines include the same features as full temples, often including any or all of the following features : gardens, running water or fountains, small burning braziers or candles (with or without incense), and copies of Taoist texts such as the Tao Te Ching, Zhuangzi or other texts by Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu or other Taoist sages.
As with all Taoist worship, Taoist shrines are organized around a sense of appreciation of nature and surroundings that inspire meditation on, and living in accordance with, the Tao ("Way" or "Path", a concept of living harmoniously with one's natural surroundings and environment) and the Three Jewels Of Taoism (different from Buddhism's concept of Three Jewels) – compassion, moderation, and humility.
In the United States and some other countries, landmarks may be called "historic shrines." Notable shrines of this type include:
- The Alamo
- Fort McHenry
- Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island
- Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
- Shrine of Remembrance, a war memorial in Brisbane, Australia.
- Lenin's Mausoleum in Moscow.
- Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, North Korea
Halls of fame also serve as shrines into which single or multiple individuals are inducted on the basis of their influence upon regions, cultures or disciplines. Busts or full-body statues are often erected and placed alongside each other in commemoration.
By extension the term shrine has come to mean any place dedicated completely to a particular person or subject such as the Shrine of the Sun in Colorado Springs, Colorado."Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun". Artsopolis Network. Retrieved December 30, 2011.
- List of shrines
- Makeshift/roadside memorial
- Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
- Holiest sites in Islam (Shia)
- Holiest sites in Islam (Sunni)
- Shrines to the Virgin Mary
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- PART III : SACRED PLACES AND TIMES. ourladyswarriors.org
- "Salafi destruction of shrines and public property unacceptable". Ikhwanweb. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- "Salafi Violence against Sufis". Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- Bahá'í World Centre (2007). "Shrine of the Báb". Bahá'í World Centre. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
- Bahá'í World Centre (2007). "Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh". Bahá'í World Centre. Retrieved 2009-02-03.
- Bahá'í Community of Canada (2014). "Bahá'í Shrine in Canada". Bahá'í Community of Canada. Retrieved 2014-12-06.
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- Rudolf Simek (2007), translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology, p. 156. D.S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-513-1
- Simek, Rudolf (2007), translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology, page 335. D.S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-513-1. and Orchard, Andy (1997). Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend, page 173. Cassell. ISBN 0-304-34520-2
- Facts and Details – Organized Taoism, Retrieved 2008-10-28.
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