Manichaeans practice three forms of baptism, one when new converts enter the faith, another on a daily basis during the hourly prayers and a third symbolic baptism at the time of burial.
1. The Baptism of Entrance (for new converts to the Religion of Light)
2. The Baptism of the Sun and Moon (daily ritual of re-commitment to the Faith, hourly prayers)
3. The Baptism of Immortality (death, burial)
The Baptism of Entrance
New converts bathe in flowing water as a part of the ritual of becoming a member of the Manichaean Faith. If possible, the water should be that of a stream, river, lake or ocean/sea. A swimming pool may also be used if one is unable to use flowing water from a natural body of water. If the baptism can not be performed outside, one may take water indoors and fill a bath tub or one may use a shower or other running water source. A tub may also be filled with one’s normal indoor source of water. If the baptism takes place outdoors, the convert should try to submerge one’s self completely, or at least up to the shoulders. Full submersion may not always be possible in an indoor environment.
Before entering the water, the convert should meditate quietly for about two or three minutes, then say: “May my baptism of entrance be witnessed by the celestial beings as a sign of my commitment to the Religion of Light.” This is followed by making the Profession of Faith. One of the hourly prayers depending on the time of day, facing the direction of either the sun or moon, is then recited. (Download the Standard Hourly Prayers)
After reciting the prayers, the water baptism is performed followed by reciting: (facing East) “I have made my commitment to the Path of Light which is the Religion of Light; I will make this commitment daily, and remain faithful in worshiping the One God, honouring the Third Messenger, the Prophet Mani, the celestial beings and the Three Pillars. May Mir Izgadda, the celestial beings and all my new brothers and sisters assist me in walking this blessed path.”
The baptism and the making of the Profession of Faith should be made known to the Temple so that the new member can be put in contact with other Manichaeans for support.
Following this, the new Manichaean should recite the Opening “Prayer before Reciting the Prayer of Emanations” and then the “Prayer of the Emanations” available on the Liturgy page in various languages.
The Baptism of the Sun and Moon – The Daily Baptism
The Daily Baptism is very simple and takes only a few minutes. This form of baptism is performed on a daily basis according to the instructions found within the document titled “Standard Times of Prayer as Practiced by the Central Manichaean Temple.” While the text refers to numerous times of prayer, the daily baptism should take place before or at sunrise, and if at all possible, after expelling the bowels.
Baptism of Immortality
The Baptism of Immortality is related to death and burial of the Manichaean faithful. The brother or sister who has passed away is buried, if at all possible, according to the traditional funeral and burial rites. (See the text known as “Funeral Rite for Manichaeans“).
The Baptism of Immortality refers to the soul entering into the Column of Glory – the Kingdom of Light.
My Bridegroom, Saviour, cleanse (baptise) me in your waters that are full of grace; wash me in the waters of immortality of the Column of Glory! (Gospel of Mar Mani, chapter 26)
If the only source of water outdoors happens to be polluted and if it would be unsafe to submerge one’s self within it, the ritual should take place indoors.
Persons who are Injured or Sick
As with all forms of baptism, if one is ill and bed-ridden, in a wheel chair or has a cast on the arm, leg, neck or other bandages or stitches that would become damaged because of contact with water, a minimum amount of water may be used, such as with a sponge or damp cloth in order to avoid such damage. In some environments where extreme cold temperatures are present, one should perform the baptism indoors.