web analytics
service and gratitude

liturgy RSS feed liturgy on twitter liturgy facebook

Washing hands

handwashing

I have been writing about connections between washing hands and spirituality
prior to the Eucharistic Prayer
as part of the Abrahamic faiths
entering a church.

There is another example of hand-washing and spirituality that New Zealanders would encounter regularly.

Maori have a deep and complex understanding in spirituality of tapu and noa, usually translated as “sacred” and “common” – but such an oversimplification can also cause confusion. Polynesian cultures often share the Maori understanding.

Tapu things or places are to be left alone and sometimes not even spoken of. Noa is the opposite of tapu. Noa lifts the tapu from a person or thing. This can make noa have the appearance of a blessing. A house would have a noa ceremony to lift the tapu – Pakeha (non-Maori) would often think of this in terms of a house blessing. [Hence, the Pakeha tendency to think of a blessing as making something sacred cannot simplistically translate into the Maori context].

When leaving a museum exhibition of Maori taonga (treasures) it would be normal to wash hands. Museums should provide a bowl of water for this. Taonga are tapu and washing hands is part of whakanoa (making noa). When leaving an urupa (cemetery), similarly, hands are washed.

Similar Posts:

Share

One Response to Washing hands

Leave a reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.




About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

You are visitor number shopify analytics tool since the launch of this site on Maundy Thursday, 13 April 2006