Human beings have a basic need for spirituality in order to live a full, healthy life. One way of meeting that need is through ritual.
Rituals can be a secular local custom or practice that expands our consciousness when done mindfully, such as covering our hearts during the Pledge of Allegiance or standing when singing the national anthem. Religious rituals, when done with heartfelt intent, are a pathway and connection to Divinity, something greater than ourselves.
The ritual act also connects us to our historical tradition, to memories of celebration with family, friends and community and to the notion of others throughout the world who do the same. Religious rituals elevate us from mundane, everyday existence to remind us of the sacredness of life, a way to translate our beliefs into concrete behavior. In fact, the word "spirituality" contains "ritual" right at the center of it.
Religious rituals mark life-cycle events (birth, death, marriage), holy days (holidays) or celebration of seasons. They help us retain an identity, a feeling of rootedness. If the act of ritual is done without a feeling of divinity, it becomes mechanical and useless. A true appreciation and understanding of the meaning and purpose of the ritual is important, so that we can fully experience the sacred.
The symbols and objects used for religious ritual also carry important tradition and meaning. Many times they're handed down through families, touched by many generations on their spiritual paths. They help us further define the difference between the mundane and the holy.