Star Wars created many fans, but could it create a religion? For a long time, we imagined that entertainment could produce fans, if not thousand then millions, but who would have thought that it could also create a religion! Started as a prank, Jediism today claims more followers than Scientology. While many fans are aware of the basic tenets of being a Jedi, many follow those beliefs in real life. Jediism is a philosophy, for some a joke religion, and for others just a fanism. It is based on the Jedi characters of Star Wars.
How did Jediism come into existence?
Jediism is different from other religions as it does dictate any requirements like diet or clothing or practices, however, it promotes a set of codes of ethics that center on resting negative emotions and attaining peace. They believe in a force that binds everyone together and mindfulness, much similar to that described in the movies. Close to 48,000 people reported themselves as Jedi in a census conducted in 2016, making it the seventh most popular religion.
It all started with a prank in 2001, when an email went around encouraging people to state their religion as Jediism on the form promising that if 10,000 people were to do so, Jediism would become a fully recognized religion. The email also mentioned the line “Do it because you love Star Wars … or just to annoy people.” Much to the surprise, 390,127 people registered themselves as Jedi. Most teenagers were included in the census as they found it difficult to complete the census form and with Jediism they knew what to fill.
Jediism is inspired by Star Wars, and the websites responsible for bringing up this belief were “The Jedi Religion and regulations” and “Jediism”. These websites used 21 maxims and created a real Jedi belief system. Thus, without any leader, movement, or organization, Jediism established itself as a religion. In 2005, the Temple of Jedi Order was registered in Texas. Temple of the Jedi Order’ has issued a code for believers called ‘The 16 Teachings of The Jedi’. Many people have since tried to codify Jediism but due to its roots as a fictional movie, it has always been a subject of mockery.
The most basic question, the followers are asked is whether they worship Yoda, when in fact the religion does not follow a god but a set of beliefs that strives for spiritual growth and self-improvement. The Jedis consider Jediism as a philosophy rather than a religion, so followers are free to follow any religion to be a Jedi.
According to the movies, Force is a spiritual energy that allows Jedis to lift objects and attack people from distance. This force is interpreted in many ways as it is considered a metaphor rather than actual power. Among followers, for some Force is an energy that helps clear minds while for some it could account for miracles. Every Jedi describes Force through their experiences; thus, it could be said that Force is something integral to the system but also tangible.
The lessons taught in Jediism are much like other religions – help others, help yourself, embrace the light and resist the dark. Though people fail to take this religion seriously, they do not understand that Jediism in real life does not resemble the movie but the beliefs of its followers that want peace, at least inside them. People still resemble Jedis as lightsaber-wielding warriors when in reality they are just normal people like you and me struggling to find peace.
Star Wars is a movie series, consist of 12 movies, first movie “Star Wars: A new hope” was released in 1977, which followed by three trilogies and 3 Anthology films. In India, though Star Wars initially failed to touch audience, it came to its prime with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” which reportedly collected Rs.3.58 crore on its opening day.