Home ARTS & CULTURE What Does Water Symbolise In Different Cultures Around The World?

What Does Water Symbolise In Different Cultures Around The World?

by InlandTown Editor
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Water is a staple element for every living being’s existence since the beginning of time. Its significance for man’s survival cannot be overstated. Research has shown that human beings can survive up to two months without food but cannot live more than four days without water.

Apart from its physical value, water means different things to different people and cultures all around the world. It has been used to symbolize different cultural, religious, and traditional beliefs across the world.

Water has played an important role in the spiritual and cultural practices of many civilizations throughout history. For centuries, it has been used as a symbol of purification, life, and healing, among other things.

In many religions, water is considered sacred and is used in rituals and ceremonies. For example, in Christianity, water symbolizes cleansing and spiritual rebirth. Baptism, which involves immersing the body in water, is a ritual that represents a new beginning and a fresh start in the life of a believer.

Similarly, in Hinduism, water is considered a purifying element, and people take dips in holy rivers like the river Ganges which is considered sacred and is believed to have the power to wash away sins and cleanse the soul.

Meanwhile, in Islam, ablution with water is a prerequisite before prayer for purification and ritual washing. It is considered a symbol of purity and a means to cleanse oneself before engaging in worship.

In Buddhism, water is a symbol of purity and enlightenment. Buddhists believe that water has the power to wash away impurities and negative energy. The Buddhist tradition of pouring water over the Buddha statue during the Water Festival is a symbolic act of washing away one’s sins and purifying oneself.

Also, in Japan, the Shinto religion associates water with purity, and it is believed that washing in a river or a waterfall can cleanse the body and soul.

Water is also often associated with the feminine, fertility and prosperity, and many African cultures have myths and legends about water goddesses. Among the Yoruba people in the Western Nigeria, the goddess Yemoja is revered as the mother of all waters.

They also celebrate different cultural festivals where atonements and rituals are made to the river goddess. These are mostly celebrated annually during the raining season. One of them is the popular Osun Osogbo Festival which attracts people of different races and colours from all over the world to the ancient town of Ile-Ife in Osun State, Nigeria.

In traditional Chinese culture, water is considered one of the five elements that make up the universe. It is believed to represent the qualities of adaptability, tranquility, and flexibility. Water is also associated with the concept of Yin, which is feminine and represents darkness, coldness, and stillness. The Tao Te Ching, a fundamental text in Taoism, states that “the highest good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to.”

Furthermore, many cultures have associated water with emotions and the subconscious mind. In Chinese culture, water is associated with the emotion of fear, but it is also seen as a symbol of calmness and tranquility.

According to ancient Egyptian mythology, the god Sobek was associated with the Nile River and was believed to represent the power of the subconscious mind. While Chinese philosophy see water as a symbol of the Tao, representing the natural flow of life and the power of the unconscious mind.

Likewise, in Native American culture, water is seen as a source of life and is considered sacred. Many Native American tribes perform water ceremonies to honor and give thanks to the water spirits.

The ultimate meaning that has been given to water from cultures to cultures is its healing power. water is used in various healing rituals and medicinal practices, as it is believed to have the power to cleanse the body and spirit.

For example, people go to the Ikogosi warm water springs in the heart of Ekiti State, Nigeria because of its healing power. It is believed that the springs has the power to heal rheumatism, and other joint related diseases.

Health experts also advise to take at least 3 litres of water daily for detoxification and first-aid method in the treatment of malaria fever.

To celebrate the importance of water and its indispensability all over the world, the United Nations has set aside every March 22  annually as World Water Day.

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