Firstly it is necessary to notice that Chinese “jiao” means sacrifice. Saso (1990) says that n ancient times jiao ritual referred to a “to a pledge in wine at the wedding ceremony or at the coming of age of a son”. Nevertheless, nowadays jiao is used to describe the sacrificial part of major Daoist services. Historically jiao was associated with the rites of penitence and abstinence (zhai). Jiao was influenced by Buddhist religion and slightly changed the meaning stating that jiao is the ritual for the salvation of the ancestors(Wu 1974).
Daosist priests performed jiao sacrifices with the purpose to renew the covenant of community, to protect it and to bless the community. Jiao is being practiced nowadays in Taiwan. It is known that jiao ritual performs many different functions depending on the purpose. it is apparent that jiao ritual is of great significance for Taoism. Generally jiao ritual is respected and honored, because its aim is to: 1. to provide peace and safety (ping’an jiao) 2. to prevent epidemics and serious illnesses (wen jiao) 3. to bless in general (qingcheng jiao) 4.
to protect from natural disasters such as fires, floods, draughts, etc(Wu 1974). Jiao is showered with a specific meaning, because people believe ritual will assist them in better future and will provide them with necessary things. Jiao gives people the hope and leads them through smoothes and roughs of their lives. People need something to believe in, because no stimulus remains without belief. Also it is evident that jiao ritual is respected as it is one of the most ancient rituals in the religion(Wickeri 1995). It is known that jiao rituals are held irregularly or at fixed intervals.
Jiao duration is from one up to seven days and customs completely depend on them. It is necessary to underline that the main difference between jiao ritual and other religious services is that jiao addresses the powers of the Three Pure Ones being the hypostases of the Dao. Frankly saying jiao is not simply praying gods. It is showered with more sense and significance. Usually public is allowed to take part in jiao rituals, though it is forbidden to enter the sacred arena where the ritual is preformed(Thomson 1991).
The purpose of jiao ritual is to communicate with deities of popular religion and especially with Three Pure Ones. The ritual consists of: announcement of the jiao celebration, invitation and call to attend the festival, feasting during ritual, presenting official petitions, seeking for expressing penitence and forgiveness of sins, the covenant between the highest powers and the community, etc. Salvation of souls is also an essential part of the jiao ritual. It is seen that jiao ritual is one of the brightest rituals and its significance can’t be either ignored or neglected(Saso 1990).
Jiao’s officiates involve a high priest, several assistants, small group of musicians. The special status and privileges obtain the donors in the community. People of the community involved in the ritual may contribute money and other kinds of assistance in preparation. Usually they don’t take part in the ritual, though their offer their own sacrifices outside the temple to the spirits, gods and ancestors. During ritual the celebrants appear before the public to perform the rituals in the sacred area. The jiao’s altars are devoted to importand gods and spirits of the popular religion(Thomson 1997).
Jiao ritual has the profound significance for Daosist. The ancient theories of Daosism clam that “to call down the highest powers of the macrocosm is in actuality to practice the exercises of inner alchemy (neidan) within the microcosm of the priest’s body”. While liturgy performance the priest not only addresses the highest powers, he also inwardly produce immortal fetus. According to jiao ritual, the goal of Daoism is the attainment of immortality and jiao ritual is one of the possible ways to achieve it.
Jiao is associated with the opportunity to find both peace of body and peace of mind in immortality. To sum up it is necessary to assert that jiao ritual is a mediator between cosmic renewal and immortality(Wu 1974).
Saso, Michael. (1990). Taoism and the Rite of Cosmic Renewal. Pullman: Washington State University Press. Thompson, Wu. (1991) The Taoist Tradition in Chinese Thought. Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California. Thompson, Wu. (1997) Chinese Religious Traditions Collated. Los Angeles, CA: University of Southern California.