Rituals constitute an essential part of our daily life. The definition accommodates all people, religious or not. Every person has their own set of daily rituals along with the religiously oriented kind. Physical interactivity between people is one of the foundations of most interactions even within this technologically driven world. But with the recent advent of the Coronavirus people are wary, rightfully so, of the dangers that any physical interaction would entail.

Rituals constitute an essential part of our daily life. The definition accommodates all people, religious or not. Every person has their own set of daily rituals along with the religiously oriented kind. Physical interactivity between people is one of the foundations of most interactions even within this technologically driven world.

But with the recent advent of the Coronavirus people are wary, rightfully so, of the dangers that any physical interaction would entail. All around the world, people have shut themselves in their homes. But when the majority of the global population follows a certain creed, the sharply colored clash between faith and practice shines anew.

Scientists are racing towards finding a vaccine from this pandemic while health professionals and necessary workers try to control the situation on ground. Religion is the solace of first resort for billions grappling with a pandemic for which scientists, governments and the secular world seem to, so far, have few answers.

With both face masks and leadership in short supply, dread over the Coronavirus has driven the globes faithful even closer to religion and ritual. But what one recommends for the mind may not be what’s best for the body or everyone else’s.

Communal gatherings are a keystone of most religious practices. People all over the world are running afoul of public health officials warning that mass gatherings and the congregation would exacerbate the spread of the virus.

For every view there are those who don’t see the same way, exceptions to each strict fully enforced social distancing rule.  In Myanmar, a prominent Buddhist monk announced that a dose of one lime and three palm seeds — no more, no less — would confer immunity.  And in Texas, the preacher Kenneth Copeland braided televangelism with telemedicine, broadcasting himself, one trembling hand outstretched, as he claimed he could cure believers through their screens. The siren call for religious practice has taken on greater urgency even though most religious authorities preach for social distancing and restricted movement.

Most sites that are a cause for mass gathering have been put off-limits.  Coronavirus outbreaks have been linked to a South Korean church, a gathering of 12,500 faithful at a mosque in Kuala Lumpur and an Orthodox Jewish congregation in New Rochelle, N.Y. In such scary conditions, how do you feel the warmth of communal prayer and collective worship, the experience that draws the faithful to houses of worship around the world, in the cold blue light of a live-streamed service? One answer may lie in spiritual advisories from religious authorities, sought to redirect believers’ energies inward.

In a world where so many routines have been obliterated, it is the rites themselves that many cherish. Whether from the home or at gatherings, such rites are what people hold on to for some semblance of normality and control. Such need is being answered by the flexibility has been shown by the faiths adapting to the new reality

Though most houses of worship are closed or empty, the faith perseveres and adapts.  Holy water is splashed from individual bottles instead of a font. Friday Prayer has been canceled across the Middle East, instead Muezzins in KSA and Kuwait entreat the faithful to avoid the mosque and instead pray at home. Weeks have gone by without mass in Italy and synagogues held services with smaller quorums. 

The Pope’s Mass was live-streamed. So was a burning rite to dissipate the virus at the Kinpusen-ji Buddhist temple in Japan. Whether to judge the need for rites on purely religious or medical grounds, we can all agree that it is high for a miracle.