Circumambulation

Circumambulation (latin circum + ambulation is the movement around a holy object, or of a holy object. The completion of a circle of protection, or of community, creates an integrity that is otherwise difficult to obtain in this world.

The application of this in religions is diverse, examples include:

  • the Hajj (the Muslim Circumambulation of the Kaaba); the Prayer Wheel in Tibet;
  • the stupa and Bo tree in Buddhism;
  • the respect shown to the Adi Granth on entering a gurdwara;
  • Lavan;
  • the Hindu “following the sun” around the sacred fire and,
  • in the temple (and, in pradaksina, to go around any sacred object, person, or place, including the whole of India;
  • the seven circuits (hakkafot) around a cemetery before a burial by Sephardi and Hasidic Jews.
  • In Hinduism, some Hindu temples have ambulatory passageways.
  • In Christianism, the priest sometimes move in circles in the altar. Also, there are some rituals to circumambulate around a saint, a relic or an image.
  • In Islam, as mentioned before, the muslim circumambulate around the Kaaba.
  • In Judaism during the ritual of Hakafot there is some circumambulation, also during a wedding celebration.
  • In Witchcraft the magic circle would be a circumambulation. A.G.H.

Source:

Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p. 224