Material Culture of Religion: Glossary of (selected) Religious Terms, Concepts, People, Etc. A ad

jyapu (Nepalese) Hindu (Nepal): Newar farmer caste. Jyeshta


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jyapu (Nepalese)
Hindu (Nepal): Newar farmer caste.

Indian subcontinent: The third month of the (solar) year; the others are Chaitra, Vaishaaka, Aashaadha, Sraavana, Bhaadrapada, Aaswayuja, Kaartika, Maargasira, Pushya, Magha and Phaalguna.


Indian subcontinent: Eighth month of the (solar) calendar; the others are Chaitra, Vaishaaka, Jyeshta, Aashaadha, Sraavana, Bhaadrapada, Aaswayuja, Maargasira, Pushya, Magha and Phaalguna.

Place name: Muslim shrine in Mecca housing the Black Stone and serving as the focal point for the hajj and direction for formal worship.

kabbalah (=cabala

kafir (Arabic: "non-Muslim")

  1. Muslim: An unbeliever or infidel.

  2. Muslim: Originally meaning "ungrateful to Allah," in Islam it is the term used to designate an infidel, or unbeliever, who, in the Qur'an, is threatened with punishment in hell. It is therefore the opposite of Muslim.

  3. In popular usage: denotes a particular kind of ornamental plant, a kafir lily.

kagura (Japanese)
Shinto: A performance of music and dance whose origin is attributed to a performance by the heavenly gods. A popular form of kagura called satokagura is performed for local deities.

kahin (Arabic)
Pagan: Religious functionary at a pagan shrine.

Hindu: The abode of Shiva.

kalam (Arabic" "speech", "rhetorical formation")

  1. Muslim: Theological argument framed in terms of an argument.
  2. Muslim: Speculative theology.

Kali (or, Durga)
Hindu: "The black one;" the name of a Goddess represented as fierce and bloodthirsty, the destroyer of evil, but is also venerated as the Mother: Shiva's shakti in her most terrifying form.


  1. Hindu: The name of the God of love.

  2. Hindu: Together with artha, dharma and moksha, one of the four goals of life in Hindu tradition.

kami (Japanese)

  1. Shinto: Any of some 8 million deities or spiritual beings regarded as objects of worship.

  2. Shinto: Parishioners of a particular shrine believe in their tutelary kami as the source of human life and existence. Each kami is believed to have a divine personality and to respond to sincere prayers.

  3. Shinto: An appellation for all beings which possess extraordinary ability or virtue, and which are awesome or worthy of reverence (both good and evil).

  4. Shinto: Earthly deities (of the soil) are kunitsukami; heavenly deities (of the sky) are amatsukami.

kamiko (Japanese)
Shinto: A female officiant at a shrine trained to assist the priests and perform the sacred dances. (See also miko.)

kannushi (Japanese)
Shinto: Priest.

kanun (Turkish?)
Muslim (Ottoman Empire): Secular law.

Karbala'(place name)
Muslim (Shi'ite): The place in Iraq where Husayn was ambushed and killed; commemorated each year on the 10th of the month of Muharram.

Hindu/Buddhist: The moral law of cause and effect, such that past unenlightened actions keep beings in samsara, bound to the endless cycles of life, death and rebirth.

karmamarga(=karma marga; Sanskrit: "path of works")

Hindu: One of the three traditional "paths" of Hinduism, the other two being bhaktimarga and jnanamarga.

kashiwade (Japanese)
Shinto: Ritual handclaps upon entering a shrine (see Shinto shrine ritual.)

Jewish: The method for preparing useable utensils and making them fit for Passover. The process, according to the American Jewish Committee: Cleaning them very carefully and then immersing them in boiling water. Metal utensils used for frying have a tendency to build up a residue of oil and food particles. Such utensils can be kashered by holding them over fire burning off that residue. In many Jewish homes this process is avoided by packing away the regular set of utensils and simply keeping a separate set of kitchen ware that is used only on Passover.

kashf (Arabic)
Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): Unveiling of the divine mysteries.

kashrut (Hebrew)
Jewish: A general term for religious dietary requirements.

katha (Punjabi)
Sikh: Pious discourse at an assembly for religious worship.

Buddhist: The celebration when monks end a three month rain retreat and are given new robes.

Kaur (Punjabi: "princess")
Sikh: The ritual name adopted by female believers. Sikh men take the additional name Singh ("lion").

kehillah (Hebrew)
Jewish: The community of believers, usually those who attend a particular synagogue.

Buddhist (Zen): An experience of seeing into one's own nature.

kesdhari (=kesh) (Punjabi)
Sikh: A (male) believer who keeps the hair uncut (on head and chin) (one of the five "k's"of the Khalsa).

Keshav Baliram Hedgewar
See Hedgewar, Keshav Baliram

Ketzer (Hebrew: “crown”)

Jewish: The name for the first of the Sefirot in Kabbalah; also called “nothingness”.


  1. Muslim: Common first name for women.

  2. Muslim: Name of Muhammad's first wife.

Muslim: The creator of the universe.

Muslim: God's creations.

Khalsa (Punjabi)
Sikh: An institution or order established by the tenth guru, Gobind Singh, enrolling male Sikhs of any (Indian) caste. Membership requires obedience to a code of conduct and maintenance of a set of symbols (panj kakke -- the five "k's") and ideally marked by initiation rites.

khalwa (Arabic)
Muslim (Shi'ite: Sufi): Sufi retreat.

khan (Turkish?)
Muslim: A polite title for adult males.

kharaj (Arabic: "land tax")
Muslim (Ottoman): Paid by peasants on agricultural produce.

Khariji (=Kharijites; Arabic: "one who secedes")

  1. Muslim: Minor sect, usually in political opposition to a Sunni or Shi'ite ruler.

  2. Muslim: A group active in early Islam who believed in absolute devotion as the mark of a true Muslim; all others are unbelievers.

  3. Muslim: Members of an anarchist group believing that any sinless Muslim could be caliph.

khatib (Arabic)
Muslim: One who delivers the khutba.

Khedive (Persian)
Muslim: Title used by rulers of Muhammad Ali dynasty in Egypt from 1867-1914.

Khordad Sal
Zoroastrian: The remembrance of the birth of the Prophet Zarathushtra.

Khulafa al-Rashidun
See Al-Khulafa al-Rashidun.

khums (Arabic?: "1/5")

  1. Common usage: Religious tax.

  2. Muslim (Shi'ite): One-fifth of income given to the descendants of Muhammad.

  3. Muslim (Shi'ite/Iran): One-fifth of income as a religious tax divided between descendants of Muhammad and the ulema.

  4. Muslim (Shi'ite): One-fifth of one's earnings given as a religious tax.

  5. Muslim (Shi'ite: One-fifth of all profit earned in trade given as a charitable tax.

khuruj (Arabic: "reappearance")

khutba (=khutbah; Arabic: "sermon")

(See also: homily)

  1. Muslim: Sermon during a worship service in a mosque.

  2. Muslim: The reading from the Qur'an and its interpretation at the jum'a (roughly equivalent to ).

  3. Muslim: The address given at the jum'a by a khatib that disseminates political information as well as religious instruction. A symbol of political sovereignty of a ruler was to mention that ruler's name in the khutba.

kiai (Indonesian)
Muslim (Indonesian): A religious teacher of high standing.

kibbutz (Hebrew)
Jewish: Communal agricultural settlement, esp. in Israel.

Kiddush (Hebrew: "blessing over wine")
Jewish: The blessing said over wine: “Barukh atah adonai elohenu melekh ha-olam boreh pri ha-gafen.” = ”Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.”
Muslim (d. 873): Philosopher and scientist.

Kinely, Dr. Henry Clifford
Secret Society/New Age: Founded Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research in 1931.

King, George
New Age: Leader (1950s) of Aetherious Society in California.

Buddhist (Zen): Walking zazen.

kirtan (Punjabi)
Sikh: Hymns sung at assemblies of religious worship.

kitab (Arabic: "book")

Muslim: Often refers to the Qu'ran.

Kizilbash (Turkish: "red head")
Muslim (Ottoman Empire): A follower of the Safavid religious order, so called from the order's distinctive red headdress.

Knights of Columbus
Secret Society/Fraternal Order: Roman Catholic men [xxxx]

Knights Templar
Secret Society/Europe: A religious order of Medieval crusaders; existence into contemporary times possible. (Also known as: Order of the Temple.)

knowledge-responsibility-control triangle (=KRC)

Scientologist: A symbol that knowledge, responsibility and control act together as a whole entity.

koan (=Chinese: kungan)

  1. Buddhist (Zen): A paradoxical saying or riddle used by Zen Buddhist masters as a prod to enlightenment.

  2. Buddhist (Zen): Literally, a "public record" pointing to realization in a Zen teaching context, usually involving interaction, which may be used discursively or as an object of meditation.

Koot Hoom (=Master KH)
New Age: An ascended master who revealed psychic communiqués to Alice Bailey, founder of Lucis Trust religious sect about 1930.

kosher ("fit, proper")
Jewish: That which is ritually clean or acceptable according to Jewish law. The term is usually applied to food or food preparation.

Hopi: "Life out of balance."

Krishna (=Krsna)
Hindu: Lord Krishna appears as a main character in the Bhagavad-Gita. He is considered the eighth avatar of Vishnu.

Krishna Jayanti (=Sri Krishna Janmashtami)
Hindu (holiday): The commemoration of the birth of Krishna.

Krishna Venta

New Age: Leader of WKLF Foundation of the World about 1948-1958 in Southern California.

Kshatriya (=chhetri)
Hindu: Second highest level in Indian caste system. “Sprung from Brahma’s arms.”

Hindu/Buddhist: A snake-eating figure often depicted on temple toranas.

Ku Klux Klan
Secret Society: {xxxx}

Küçük Bayram (Turkish: "minor festival")
See Id al-Fitr.

Kuhl, Regina (=High Priestess Regina Kuhl)
New Age: A leader of the Temple of Thelma in Los Angeles, CA., about 1940.

kumari (Nepalese)
Hindu (Nepal): A young virgin regarded as a living Goddess in Kathmandu Valley towns.

Kumbhy Mela
Hindu: A festival held once every 12 years that brings more than 10 million people to northern India to perform ritual ablutions in the Ganges River, considered a symbol of life without end.

Muslim: The practice of renaming a man or a woman after his/her first-born son. Example: Umm Daoud is David's mother, Abu Daoud is David's father.
Common usage (African-American)(holiday): Secular observance 26 December-1 January celebrating family, community and culture.


L. Ron Hubbard
See Hubbard, L. Ron.

Christian (holiday): The Feast of the Annunciation, when Gabriel appeared before Mary; celebrated 25 March.


Lag B'Omer (Hebrew)
Jewish (minor holiday): A celebration of "Freedom and Perseverance" observed on the 33rd day of the month of Omer.

Lailat al-Miraj and Israa' (Arabic)

Muslim (holiday): Observance of Muhammad's night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascension to heaven.

Lailat al-Bara'ah (=Shab-Barat; Arabic, "Night of Forgiveness")
Muslim: A night of prayer for forgiveness of the dead and preparation for Ramadan.

Lailat ul-Qadr (=Nuzulul Qur'an; Arabic, "Night of Destiny")
Muslim: Celebration of the first revelation of the Qur'an to Muhammad; observed during the last ten days of Ramadan.

See also layman.
Common usage: Members of religious congregations who are not clergy or other professional religous leaders.

Hindu/Buddhist: Sacred masked dancing.

Lakshmi (Sanskrit: "wealth", "beauty", "splendor")
Hindu: The Goddess of prosperity, wife (or, consort) of Vishnu, and sometimes referred to as the Lotus Goddess.

Buddhist (Tibetan): Priest.

New Age: (see, Lughnasa)

langar (Punjabi)

  1. Sikh: A meal shared by everyone in the congregation following a worship service.

  2. Sikh: The kitchen of the gurdwara in which the communal meal following a worship service is prepared.

Lantern Festival
Chinese: See Moon Cake Festival.

Lao-Tzu (= Lao Zi, = Liu Xiang) (Chinese: the old master)
Tao: The founder of Taoism, born about 600 BCE, Lao-Tzu is said to have lived most of his life as an official in the court of the Chou emperors. The author of Tao Te Ching.

Lao Zi (Chinese: “the old child”; =Lao Tzu)
See Lao Tzu.

laqab (Arabic)

  1. Muslim: Surname or family name.

  2. Muslim: The honorific part of a Muslim name, often a compound ending in al-Din or al-Dawla.

Las Posadas (=Feast of The Lodgings, =Navideٌas)

Christian (esp. Hispanic Roman Catholic): A celebration re-enacting the search by Joseph for a room at an inn for Mary to give birth to Jesus.

layman (=layperson, =lay person)
Common usage: A person who is not a professional religious leader.
See also laity.

laying on of hands
Christian: Ritual.

Lazarus Saturday Christian (Eastern Orthodox): Celebration of the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus on the eve of Palm Sunday.

Christian (especially liturgical traditions including Roman Catholic): A book containing portions of scripture which are designated to be read aloud at services of Holy Communion or Mass and at Matins and Evensong. The readings are selected because of their relevance to the sequence of the church year and are therefore taken out of their context in the original biblical works; listing of readings for each worship service.

Christian (Protestant): Refers to the attempt to justify oneself in God’s sight by obeying God’s law, without help from the grace and mercy of God.

New Age: The third Root Race leading to human beings.

Christian: The period of fasting or abstinence observed in the 40 days before Easter, not counting Sundays, beginning with Ash Wednesday.

Leonardo da Vinci

  1. Italian Renaissance artist, inventor, etc.

  2. Priory of Sion: Grand Master.

Jewish/Christian: The sea monster killed by God using a sword in Chapter 27 of the Book of Isaiah in the Bible.

lex naturale (Greek)

Natural law; a key concept in legal theory. Rational beings inherently possess intuitive principles of an essentiall juridical nature that are expressed in ius gentium (from Cicero’s De Legibus).

li (Chinese)

  1. Confucian: "The course of life as it is intended to go."

  2. Chinese term for propriety, proper conduct, ritual etiquette and due social form.

The pouring of wine, oil, honey or water on the ground as part of a religious ritual.

Christian: A tradition in theology characterized by the effort to base religious belief on experience.

Lie Xian Chuan
Taoist: Hagiographic work compiled presumably during the 3rd or 4th century CEby one or several persons using the name of Liu Xiang (or, Lao-Tzu), a historical personage of much earlier times.

Li Ji (or, Li Chi) (Chinese)
Confucian: One of the Five Classics of the canon, whose title is usually translated as "Book of Ritual".

Li Jiao Siwu Lun
Taoist (Quan Zhen): An important scripture, possibly dating from the hands of the founder Wang Zhe in the 11th century.

Temple Zagduku: The dark patron.

Lilitu's Night
Temple Zagduku: Celebration honoring Lilitu.

Christian (Roman Catholic): According to tradition, a special hell-like realm reserved for children who died very young and were therefore not baptized (and, maybe, for especially worthy non-believers).

Lingbao Wufu Jing
Taoist (Ling-bao): An important revelatory text dating to the 4th century CE.

lingum (plural: lingas) (Sanskrit)
Hindu: A symbolic male phallus, generally associated with Shiva.

Listing and Nulling

Scientologist: A specialized technique used in certain auditing processes.

Christian: A special type of prayer consisting of short sentences expressing hopes and supplications. These are read or sung by an officiant and followed by a repetitive formula on the part of the people.

New Age: The summer solstice holiday is celebrated by Neopagans between 20-23 June. Decorations are roses.

Bless us, O Queen of Summer, and bless all living creatures.
Now the peak has been reached, the change
shall be made.
Now the sails of the bright Sun are unfurled.

-- Neopagan Litha poem

Little Sisters of the Poor

Christian (Roman Catholic): Order of nuns.

liturgical year
Christian: The annual cycle of festivals and days of penance beginning in the late fall with Advent and continuing through Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost, to the long summer period after Pentecost.

A general term used to designate the whole procedure of ritual actions and prayers used in religious services, in particular in the context of the Jewish and Christian traditions.

Scientologist: A mental image picture of an experience where one was knowingly or unknowingly reminded of an engram.

Locke, John

locum (=locum tenens)
Christian (esp. Protestant): A clergyperson temporarily taking the place of another clergyperson, such as in case of illness or vacation..

logical positivism
Philosophy: The essence of scientific statements are defined by means of logic and the analysis of language. (see also positivism)

Logos (Greek)
  1. The final rationale, “the point of it all”.

  2. Stoic: Intrinsic ordering principle of the world.

  3. Christian: Refers to Jesus as the eternal Word of God (see John 1:1-14).

Lohri (=Makar Sankranti)
Hindu: Celebrated in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, this January festival marks the beginning of the end of winter, and the end of the winter month known as Poush.

Hindu/Buddhist: “Lord of the World,” a form of Avalokiteshwara to Buddhists and of Shiva to Hindus.

Norse/New Age: God who is agent of evil; trickster God.

Lord Brihaspathi
Hindu: See Brihaspathi.

Lord's Evening Meal
Christian (Jehovah's Witness): Primary annual celebration taking place in the evening.

Los Reyes Catolicos (Spanish)
Christian (Roman Catholic): Refers to King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, who united the Iberian Peninsula* in the late 15th Century and expelled all non-Catholics. *except for Portugual and the Basque Kingdom of Navarra.

Louis de Nevers
Priory of Sion: Grand Master; b. 1539, d. after 1584. (Also known as Louis de Gonzaga.)

Louis Guanella
See Guanella, Louis.


  1. [xxxx]

  2. New Age (Process Church): One of the four co-equal deities of the Process Church of the Final Judgement.

Lughnasa (=Lughnasadh, =Lammas)
New Age: One of the Celtic quarterly feasts, held on 1 August; often adopted as a holiday by Neopagans. Connected with Lug, a widely worshipped Celtic god associated with the raven.

For the Sun we mourn

as he shall wane.
The crops remain.
Through kern and corn,
the harvest born,
shall life return.
Our Mother Earth
now brings to birth
the life poured forth
in light and warmth.
-- Neopagan Lughnasa chant

Lun Yu (= Analects)
Confucian: A text which contains the sayings and conversations of Confucius as collected by his disciples.

Luther, Martin
Christian (Protestant): [incomplete]


Muslim (Egypt): A woman skilled in folk music and dance who passes her knowledge to others.

Indian subcontinent: Ninth month of the (solar) calendar; the others are Chaitra, Vaishaaka, Jyeshta, Aashaadha, Sraavana, Bhaadrapada, Aaswayuja, Kaartika, Pushya, Magha and Phaalguna.

New Age: The autumn equinox holiday is celebrated by Neopagans about 20-23 September.

I celebrate the gain, the fruits, and all of the Earth's abundance, dancing the outgoing and the incoming spiral. Every end is followed by a beginning. Neopagan Mabon chant

Machhendra (Nepalese)

Hindu: The guardian God of the Kathmandu Valley, guarantor of rain and plenty. The deity is also a popular interpretation of Avalokiteshwara or Lokeshwar and is enshrined as the Rato (Red) Machhendra in Patan and the Seto (White) Machendra in Kathmandu.

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