Devotional practices are, of necessity, rooted in an aesthetic that draws upon a religious tradition to validate and legitimize itself. The explicit form of ritual performance makes manifest the aesthetic that informs it and renders it meaningful.
Religious practice and performance is seldom random or arbitrary. All ritual performance follows a predictable, familiar form because the idiom that it employs to express itself, is circumscribed by an aesthetic that is unique to its context, having been instituted through specific social and religious mores over a period of time. Expression of reverence or abhorrence, humility or fear, penitence or deliverance, or such emotions that are inspired by varying aspects of religion must draw upon the aesthetic of a particular tradition in order to articulate themselves appropriately. Aesthetics offer the linguistic means, so to speak, in terms of which acts must speak in order to be interpreted correctly. An analysis of both the form and content of ritual performance, therefore, offers the interesting prospect of exploring the aesthetic in terms of which the ritual expresses itself and which must, in turn, speak of the ordering principles of the faith.