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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.


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

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