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published: 2/6/05
updated: 6/24/14

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Chinese Religious Practices

What are the rituals in Chinese religion

Chinese New Year

Chinese religion is not an organized, unified system of beliefs and practices. It has no leadership, headquarters, founder, or denominations. Instead, "Chinese religion" is a term describing the complex interaction of different religious and philosophical traditions that have been influential in China. Chinese religion is composed of four main traditions: Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

This section explores the traditional rituals and practices of Chinese religion, many of which are very ancient. Chinese religious rituals are especially based in Chinese folk religion and Confucianism but are influenced by Taoism and Buddhism as well.

Common Chinese religious practices

Ancestor Worship

Ancestor worship (also called ancestor veneration) is a ritual practice that is based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living.


Chinese Buddhism and Taoism both incorporate prayer into their daily religious rituals. In addition to the prayer accompanying offerings, the monastic prayer (mu-yu) is said morning, noon and night to the sound of a small bell.

Longevity Practices

Longevity practices - rituals and lifestyles aimed at gaining a long life or even immortality - have long been a part of Chinese religion. Even before the development of Taoism, several "hygiene schools" were teaching various techniques for achieving longevity.

Divination, Prophecy and Astrology

Divination was commonplace in ancient China. The famous "Classic of Changes" (composed before the third century BCE) involved divination.

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