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Thursday 18 March 2021

Iraq’s Mandaeans Celebrate Baptism Feast

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BAGHDAD (Al Jazeera) – Iraq’s Mandaeans, or Sabean-Mandaeans as they are known in Arabic, practise a distinct and ancient monotheistic religion which predates Islam and Christianity. This week they observed one of their holiest rituals, Panja (arabized as Benja).

Mandaeans are baptized repeatedly during their lives. John the Baptist is a key figure for the Mandaeans; they consider him to have been a Mandaean. John is referred to as their greatest and final teacher.

The celebration took place in the Tigris river, where many Mandaeans submerged in the running waters to cleanse their bodies and wash away their sins.

Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid reports from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The beliefs of the Mandaeans are similar to Manichaeism. Since both appeared at the same period, it would seem that this is a branch of Manichaeism.

According to Mandaean beliefs, the world is a mixture of light and dark created by the demiurge (Ptahil) with help from dark powers, such as Ruha, the Seven, and the Twelve. Adam’s body was fashioned by these dark beings; however, his soul (or mind) was a direct creation from the Light. Therefore, many Mandaeans believe the human soul is capable of salvation because it originates from the light-world. The soul, sometimes referred to as the “inner Adam” or “hidden Adam”, is in dire need of being rescued from the Dark, so it may ascend into the heavenly realm of the light-world.

Baptisms are a central theme in Mandaeanism, believed to be necessary for the redemption of the soul. Mandaeans do not perform a single baptism, as in religions such as Christianity; rather, they view baptisms as a ritual act capable of bringing the soul closer to salvation. Therefore, Mandaeans are baptized repeatedly during their lives.

  Forum posts

  • In Iran too there are Mandeans, in Ahvaz. they are craftsmen, they make beautiful objects in silver and gold, it’s their speciality.

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