Folk religion
Folk religion consists of ethnic or regional religious
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 customs under the umbrella of an organized religion, but outside of official doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

 and practices. Don Yoder has defined "folk religion" as "the totality of all those views and practices of religion that exist among the people apart from and alongside the strictly theological and liturgical forms of the official religion."

The term "folk religion" is generally held to encompass two related but separate subjects. The first is the religious dimension of folk culture
Folk culture
Folk culture refers to the lifestyle of a culture. Historically, handed down through oral tradition, it demonstrates the "old ways" over novelty and relates to a sense of community. Folk culture is quite often imbued with a sense of place...

, or the folk-cultural dimensions of religion. The second refers to the study of syncretism
Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

s between two cultures with different stages of formal expression, such as the melange of African folk beliefs and Roman Catholicism that led to the development of Vodun and Santería
Santería is a syncretic religion of West African and Caribbean origin influenced by Roman Catholic Christianity, also known as Regla de Ocha, La Regla Lucumi, or Lukumi. Its liturgical language, a dialect of Yoruba, is also known as Lucumi....

, and similar mixtures of formal religions with folk cultures.

Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion
Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

, Folk Christianity, Folk Hinduism, and Folk Islam are examples of folk religion associated with major religions.
There is sometimes tension between the practice of folk religion and the formally taught doctrines and teachings of a faith. In other cases, practices that originated in folk religion are adopted as part of the official religion.
The term is also used, especially by the clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 of the faiths involved, to describe the desire of people who otherwise infrequently attend religious worship
Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe, meaning worthiness or worth-ship — to give, at its simplest, worth to something, for example, Christian worship.Evelyn Underhill defines worship thus: "The absolute...

, do not belong to a church
Church Body
A local church is a Christian religious organization that meets in a particular location. Many are formally organized, with constitutions and by-laws, maintain offices, are served by pastors or lay leaders, and, in nations where this is permissible, often seek seek non-profit corporate status...

 or similar religious society, and who have not made a formal profession of faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 in a particular creed
A creed is a statement of belief—usually a statement of faith that describes the beliefs shared by a religious community—and is often recited as part of a religious service. When the statement of faith is longer and polemical, as well as didactic, it is not called a creed but a Confession of faith...

, to have religious weddings or funerals, or (among Christians) to have their children baptised
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...


Aspects of many, but not all, folk religions include:
  • Popular theophanies
    Theophany, from the Ancient Greek , meaning "appearance of God"), refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure....

    , and similar phenomena like Marian apparitions, originating outside the formal liturgy and hierarchy of the faiths in question.
  • magical thinking
    Magical thinking
    Magical thinking is causal reasoning that looks for correlation between acts or utterances and certain events. In religion, folk religion, and superstition, the correlation posited is between religious ritual, such as prayer, sacrifice, or the observance of a taboo, and an expected benefit or...

    • Protective qualities ascribed to religious objects like a particular copy of the Bible
      The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

      , Voodoo pouches, a crucifix
      A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

      , stones, crystals, eagle feathers
      Eagle feather law
      The eagle feather law provides many exceptions to federal wildlife laws regarding eagles and other migratory birds to enable Native Americans to continue their traditional practices....

      , or any other "power" object.
    • belief in traditional systems of magic
      Magic (paranormal)
      Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

       (hoodoo, voodoo, pow-wow
      Pow-wow (folk magic)
      Pow-wow is a system of American folk religion and magic associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch.-Origin of the name and practices:Its name comes from the book Pow-wows, or, The Long Lost Friend, written by John George Hohman and first published in German as Der Lange Verborgene Freund in 1820...

      , Benedicaria
      Benedicaria, which means "Way of Blessing," is a relatively new term for a number of loosely-related family-based folk traditions found throughout Italy, most notably in southern Italy and Sicily...

      , Palo Monte, Anito
      Anito is the collective name for Pre-Hispanic belief system that exists in the Philippines. It is also the name for spirits, which may include deceased ancestors and nature-spirits or diwatas. Native Filipinos usually keep statues to represent these spirits and to ask guidance and even magical...

      , Santería
      Santería is a syncretic religion of West African and Caribbean origin influenced by Roman Catholic Christianity, also known as Regla de Ocha, La Regla Lucumi, or Lukumi. Its liturgical language, a dialect of Yoruba, is also known as Lucumi....

       and Catimbó)
    • ritual
      A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

      s to ward off the Evil Eye
      Evil eye
      The evil eye is a look that is believed by many cultures to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed for reasons of envy or dislike...

      , curse
      A curse is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or misfortune will befall or attach to some other entity—one or more persons, a place, or an object...

      s, demon
      call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...

      s, witchcraft
      Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

      , etc.

Folk Christianity

Folk Christianity is defined differently by various scholars. Definitions include "the Christianity practiced by a conquered people;" Christianity as most people live it – a term used to "overcome the division of beliefs into Orthodox
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

 and unorthodox;" Christianity as impacted by superstition as practiced by certain geographical Christian groups; Christianity defined "in cultural terms without reference to the theologies
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 and histories
History of Christianity
The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, its followers and the Church with its various denominations, from the first century to the present. Christianity was founded in the 1st century by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth who they believed to be the Christ or chosen one of God...


Folk Islam

Folk Islam is an umbrella term
Umbrella term
An umbrella term is a word that provides a superset or grouping of concepts that all fall under a single common category. Umbrella term is also called a hypernym. For example, cryptology is an umbrella term that encompasses cryptography and cryptanalysis, among other fields...

 used to collectively describe the native folk beliefs, superstitions, and practices of various cultures blended with Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. Folk Islam has been described as the Islam of the "urban poor, country people, and tribes", in contrast to orthodox
The word orthodox, from Greek orthos + doxa , is generally used to mean the adherence to accepted norms, more specifically to creeds, especially in religion...

 or "High" Islam.

Folk Islam may include:
  • belief in traditional magic systems and ecstatic rituals
  • use of devotional shrine
    A shrine 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....

    s and amulets
  • veneration of saints
  • incorporation of animistic
    Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....


Folk Hinduism

The case of Folk Hinduism lies slightly different from "Folk Islam" or "Folk Christianity", as the term Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 itself was coined in the 19th century as an umbrella term for all folk religion practiced in India.
But today, "Folk Hinduism" (also Indian Folk Religion or Popular Hinduism) may still be distinguished from "high" forms of Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy
Hindu philosophy is divided into six schools of thought, or , which accept the Vedas as supreme revealed scriptures. Three other schools do not accept the Vedas as authoritative...

, or mystical or ascetic forms.
Folk Hinduism is emphatically polytheistic.

See also

  • Appalachian Granny Magic
  • Civil religion
    Civil religion
    The intended meaning of the term civil religion often varies according to whether one is a sociologist of religion or a professional political commentator...

  • Cunning folk
    Cunning folk
    The cunning folk in Britain were professional or semi-professional practitioners of magic active from the Medieval period through to the early twentieth century. As cunning folk, they practised folk magic – also known as "low magic" – although often combined with elements of "high" or ceremonial...

  • Ethnoreligious group
  • Folk medicine
    Folk medicine
    -Description:Refers to healing practices and ideas of body physiology and health preservation known to a limited segment of the population in a culture, transmitted informally as general knowledge, and practiced or applied by anyone in the culture having prior experience.All cultures and societies...

  • Magic and religion
    Magic and religion
    Magical thinking in various forms is a cultural universal and an important aspect of religion.In many cases it becomes difficult or impossible to draw any meaningful line between beliefs and practices that are magical versus those that are religious, but in general the term religion is reserved for...

  • Popular piety
    Popular piety
    Popular piety refers to religious practices that arose and occur outside of the official Church. Typically the term is used within the context of the Catholic church, the practices are generally accepted and allowed...

  • Pre-Christian Alpine traditions
  • Thunderstone (folklore)
    Thunderstone (folklore)
    Throughout Europe, Asia, Polynesia, in fact in almost all parts of the world where their use had been forgotten, flint arrowheads and axes turned up by the farmer's plow are considered to have fallen from the sky, are often thought to be thunderbolts and are called "Thunderstones".It was not until...

  • Veneration of the dead
    Veneration of the dead
    Veneration of the dead is based on the belief that the deceased, often family members, have a continued existence and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living...

  • Prehistoric religion
    Prehistoric religion
    Prehistoric religion is a general term for the religious beliefs and practices of prehistoric peoples. More specifically it encompasses Paleolithic religion, Mesolithic religion, Neolithic religion and Bronze Age religion.-Burial:...

  • Perceptions of religious imagery in natural phenomena
    The Main is a river in Germany, with a length of the most significant right tributary of the Rhine.-Geography:...

  • Faith healing
    Faith healing
    Faith healing is healing through spiritual means. The healing of a person is brought about by religious faith through prayer and/or rituals that, according to adherents, stimulate a divine presence and power toward correcting disease and disability. Belief in divine intervention in illness or...

Further reading

  • Gorshunova . Olga V.(2008). Svjashennye derevja Khodzhi Barora…, ( Sacred Trees of Khodzhi Baror: Phytolatry and the Cult of Female Deity in Central Asia) in Etnoragraficheskoe Obozrenie, n° 1, pp. 71–82. ISSN 0869-5415. .
  • Allen, Catherine. The Hold Life Has: Coca and Cultural Identity in an Andean Community. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989; second edition, 2002.
  • Badone, Ellen, ed. Religious Orthodoxy and Popular Faith in European Society. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990.
  • Bastide, Roger. The African Religions of Brazil: Toward a Sociology of the Interpenetration of Civilizations. Trans. by Helen Sebba. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.
  • Brintnal, Douglas. Revolt against the Dead: The Modernization of a Mayan Community in the Highlands of Guatemala. New York: Gordon and Breach, 1979.
  • Christian, William A., Jr. Apparitions in Late Medieval and Renaissance Spain. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981.
  • Johnson, Paul Christopher. Secrets, Gossip, and Gods: The Transformation of Brazilian Candomblé. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Nutini, Hugo. Ritual Kinship: Ideological and Structural Integration of the Compadrazgo System in Rural Tlaxcala. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984.
  • Nutini, Hugo. Todos Santos in Rural Tlaxcala: A Syncretic, Expressive, and Symbolic Analysis of the Cult of the Dead. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988.
  • Taylor, Lawrence J. Occasions of Faith: An Anthropology of Irish Catholics. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995.
  • Vineeta Sinha, Problematizing Received Categories: Revisiting ‘Folk Hinduism’ and ‘Sanskritization’, Current Sociology, Vol. 54, No. 1, 98-111 (2006)
  • Vineeta Sinha, Persistence of ‘Folk Hinduism’ in Malaysia and Singapore, Australian Religion Studies Review Vol. 18 No. 2 (Nov 2005):211-234
  • Stuart H. Blackburn, Inside the Drama-House: Rama Stories and Shadow Puppets in South India, UCP (1996), ch. 3: " Ambivalent Accommodations: Bhakti and Folk Hinduism".
  • Stuart H. Blackburn, Death and Deification: Folk Cults in Hinduism, History of Religions (1985).
  • David N. Gellner, Hinduism. None, one or many?, Social Anthropology (2004), 12: 367-371 Cambridge University

External links

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