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Years ago, I decided to take a belly dancing class because I found the music and movements enchanting. The class exceeded my expectations. It provided so much more than a step-by-step guide on hip movement. I was informed about the ancient origins of belly dance and how the same music and movements have been used for thousands of years by women in different parts of the world. With each style we learned, our instructor reminded us that our movements were connecting us to people throughout history who had moved in the same way. That class made me realize rituals connect people across time and space.
This concept of transcendence can be applied to a variety of rituals. For example, perhaps one reason individuals feel strongly about their cultural traditions is because throughout history, people with a shared ethnic background have prepared foods the same way, worn the same type of clothing, spoken the same words, listened to the same music, and danced the same dance. By engaging in these repeated, meaningful acts, over and over again, groups are able to create and maintain a shared identity.