Kneeling

Kneeling

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Kneeling is a human position
Human position
Human positions refers to the different positions that the human body can take.There are several synonyms that refer to the human position, often used interchangeably, but having specific flavors....

 in which the weight is distributed on the knee
Knee
The knee joint joins the thigh with the leg and consists of two articulations: one between the fibula and tibia, and one between the femur and patella. It is the largest joint in the human body and is very complicated. The knee is a mobile trocho-ginglymus , which permits flexion and extension as...

s and feet on a surface close to horizontal.

The position of kneeling may be assumed for practical reasons and for reasons of social or religious custom
Convention (norm)
A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms or criteria, often taking the form of a custom....

.

Practical reasons


Kneeling makes it easier to reach the ground. For example, during gardening
Gardening
Gardening is the practice of growing and cultivating plants. Ornamental plants are normally grown for their flowers, foliage, or overall appearance; useful plants are grown for consumption , for their dyes, or for medicinal or cosmetic use...

, kneeling gives less strain to one's back than bending
Bending
In engineering mechanics, bending characterizes the behavior of a slender structural element subjected to an external load applied perpendicularly to a longitudinal axis of the element. The structural element is assumed to be such that at least one of its dimensions is a small fraction, typically...

. Various knee pads and knee mats are sold to make kneeling during gardening more comfortable.

A kneeled person is much less visible from the distance. For example, in an ambush
Ambush
An ambush is a long-established military tactic, in which the aggressors take advantage of concealment and the element of surprise to attack an unsuspecting enemy from concealed positions, such as among dense underbrush or behind hilltops...

, one may go from kneeling to sitting
Sitting
Sitting is a rest position supported by the buttocks or thighs where the torso is more or less upright.- Sitting on the floor :The most common way of sitting on the floor involves bending the knees...

 in a kind of seiza
Seiza
Seiza is the Japanese term for the traditional formal way of sitting in Japan.- Form :To sit seiza-style, one first kneels on the floor, folding one's legs underneath one's thighs, while resting the buttocks on the heels...

 and back, e.g., to peek out.

Kneeling position also provides more stability due to lower center of gravity
Center of gravity
In physics, a center of gravity of a material body is a point that may be used for a summary description of gravitational interactions. In a uniform gravitational field, the center of mass serves as the center of gravity...

.

Social and religious customs


Socially, kneeling, similarly to bowing, is associated with reverence, submission
Submission
Submission is the acknowledgement of the legitimacy of the power of one's superior or superiors.Submission may also refer to:* Submission/Submitter , an Islamic organisation...

 and obeisance, particularly if one kneels before a person who is standing or sitting: the kneeling position renders a person defenseless and unable to flee. For this reason, in some religions, in particular by Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s and Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s, kneeling is used as a position for prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

, as a position of submission to God. In north Indian Hindu
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 temples, many Hindus kneel before the icon after saying a short personal prayer, and usually touch the ground with their forehead. (This is a contrast to south Indian temples, where most people prostrate completely before the icon).

In many churches, pew
Pew
A pew is a long bench seat or enclosed box used for seating members of a congregation or choir in a church, or sometimes in a courtroom.-Overview:Churches were not commonly furnished with permanent pews before the Protestant Reformation...

s are equipped with kneeler
Kneeler
Kneeler is a piece of furniture used for resting in a kneeling position.-Prayer kneeler:In many churches, pews are equipped with kneelers in front of the seating bench so members of the congregation can kneel on them instead of the floor...

s in front of the seating bench so members of the congregation can kneel on them instead of the floor. In a few other situations such as confessional
Confessional
A confessional is a small, enclosed booth used for the Sacrament of Penance, often called confession, or Reconciliation. It is the usual venue for the sacrament in the Roman Catholic Church, but similar structures are also used in Anglican churches of an Anglo-Catholic orientation, and also in the...

s and areas in front of an altar
Altar
An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship...

, kneelers for kneeling during prayer or sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s may also be used.

Within Roman Catholicism, it is traditional to kneel on the left knee for persons of distinction (such as Kings
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

, the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

, Bishops, etc.), to kneel on the right knee for the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

, when it is in the tabernacle
Church tabernacle
A tabernacle is the fixed, locked box in which, in some Christian churches, the Eucharist is "reserved" . A less obvious container, set into the wall, is called an aumbry....

, and to kneel on both knees when the Eucharist is exposed. Confirmation candidates sometimes kneel before a sitting bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 on both knees to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and a blessing. Candidates during Holy Orders
Holy Orders
The term Holy Orders is used by many Christian churches to refer to ordination or to those individuals ordained for a special role or ministry....

 will also kneel on both before a bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 or archbishop
Archbishop
An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank, but not of higher sacramental order above that of the three orders of deacon, priest , and bishop...

. Sometimes penitents will kneel during confession
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

 to a priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 the act of kneeling, in the sense of "standing on one's knees" is not traditionally performed. Instead, there are several types of bows and prostrations
Zemnoy poklon
Poyasny and zemnoy poklon are different kinds of bows used in an Eastern Orthodox worship service....

. However, at his ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

, a deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

 will kneel on one knee to the side of the altar
Altar
An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship...

, while the bishop lays his hands on the deacon's head to read the Prayer of Cheirotonia over him. A priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 will kneel in the same manner at his ordination, but on both knees; and a bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 kneels (on both knees) in front of the altar as the Gospel Book
Gospel Book
The Gospel Book, Evangelion, or Book of the Gospels is a codex or bound volume containing one or more of the four Gospels of the Christian New Testament...

 is laid over his head and the consecrating
Consecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word "consecration" literally means "to associate with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups...

 bishops read the prayer.

As punishment



Forced prolonged kneeling (sometimes on beans or salt to increase discomfort) has been used as punishment for children
Child discipline
Child discipline is the set of rules, rewards and punishments administered to teach self control, increase desirable behaviors and decrease undesirable behaviors in children. In its most general sense, discipline refers to systematic instruction given to a disciple. To discipline thus means to...

.

See also

  • Dogeza
    Dogeza
    is an element of Japanese manners by kneeling directly on the ground and bowing to prostrate oneself as touching one's head to the floor. It is translated into English as "prostration" or "kowtow". It is used to show deference to the most highly-revered high-class person, as a deep apology and to...

  • Di nixi
  • Kowtow
    Kowtow
    Kowtow is the act of deep respect shown by kneeling and bowing so low as to have one's head touching the ground. An alternative Chinese term is ketou, however the meaning is somewhat altered: kòu originally meant "knock with reverence", whereas kē has the general meaning of "touch upon ".In Han...

  • Human position
    Human position
    Human positions refers to the different positions that the human body can take.There are several synonyms that refer to the human position, often used interchangeably, but having specific flavors....

  • Obeisance
  • Genuflexion
  • Prostration
    Prostration
    Prostration is the placement of the body in a reverentially or submissively prone position. Major world religions employ prostration either as a means of embodying reverence for a noble person, persons or doctrine, or as an act of submissiveness to a supreme being or beings...

  • Kneeling chair
    Kneeling chair
    A kneeling chair is a type of chair for sitting in a position with the thighs dropped to an angle of about 60 to 70 degrees from vertical , with some of the body's weight supported by the shins. The original kneeling chair was the Balans chair, which was developed in 1979 by Hans Christian...

  • Prayer mat
    Prayer mat
    A prayer rug or prayer mat, , is a piece of fabric to keep the worshipper clean and comfortable during the sajda of salat...

  • Gait (human)
    Gait (human)
    Human gait is the way locomotion is achieved using human limbs. Different gaits are characterized by differences in limb movement patterns, overall velocity, forces, kinetic and potential energy cycles, and changes in the contact with the surface .- Foot strike :One variable in different gaits is...

  • Squatting position
    Squatting position
    Squatting is a posture where the weight of the body is on the feet but the knees are bent either fully or partially . In contrast, sitting, involves taking the weight of the body, at least in part, on the buttocks against the ground or a horizontal object such as a chair seat...

  • Zemnoy poklon
    Zemnoy poklon
    Poyasny and zemnoy poklon are different kinds of bows used in an Eastern Orthodox worship service....

  • Bowing (social)
    Bowing (social)
    Bowing is the act of lowering the torso and head as a social gesture in direction to another person or symbol. It is most prominent in Asian cultures but it is also typical of nobility and aristocracy in many countries and distinctively in Europe. Sometimes the gesture may be limited to lowering...

  • Muslim
    Muslim
    A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...


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