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The Rite of Taking Part in Taoism

The rite of taking part in Taoism refers to a range of observances that the disciple who just takes part in Taoism must go through. The common rites of Taoism are as follows: if a disciple enters into Taoism from childhood, a boy is formally recruited when he is 7 years old, while a girl is formally recruited when she is 10 years old. After the recruitment, the boy is called as Lusheng disciple, the girl is called as Nansheng disciple, and he/she begins to formally apprentice to a Taoist to learn Taoism. When the child gradually understands the basic dogmata and etiquettes as he/she grows up, a rite called Sanjie (three precepts) or Wujie (five precepts) is held for him/her, symbolizing the disciple has formally become a Taoist. After that, he/she is forbidden to eat meat or fish and shall swear not to marry in the lifetime. As to those married, male disciples are called as Qingzhen disciples, and the female disciples are called as Qingxin disciples.

The rite of taking part in Taoism also influences the dresses and personal ornaments of disciples. The disciples who go through the precept acceptance rite can only wear Eryiguan hat, and the clothing and shoes are of the most common style. After the disciple has finished studying a certain number of Taoist canons, the precept acceptance rite of higher level, called as the Chuzhen 81 Precepts rite, shall be held, and the disciple shall be called as Taishang Chuzhen disciple or Baijian Taoist. After the rite, the dresses and personal ornaments of these Taoists will also change accordingly; he/she shall wear Qizhenguan hat, and the garments are better too. After a period of time, if the Taoist has the status of Zhengyilu, he can preside over some religious rites for other persons and take part in some religious or sacred activities held by the national government.

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