Babarism is the name of a joke religion based upon worshipping the fictional character Babar the Elephant. The name itself could be a parody on barbarism although the practises are opposite. It parodies the practise of baptism and bar mitzvahs.
The only known organization to practise Babarism at the moment is called the Church of Babar. While it acknowledges that Babar is a fictional elephant, they believe his stories to be possibly divinely inspired.
Jean de Brunhoff, the author of the series, is looked to as a scribe to heaven, with messiahnic qualities similar to L. Ron Hubbard's position to the Church of Scientology.
Despite this joking stance, the creator does admit that it is a parody religion, but that it is not made for that purpose. Babarism is also a philosophical stance promoting the good values it espouses, and in collecting like-minded people wanting to lead better lives as the elephants do.
Despite the monarchy present in having Babar be a king, his practises are very fair and democratic, and represent animalkind's emergence from a past sort of wild living. These practises then spread elsewhere, such as the kingdom of Rataxes of the Rhinos.
On Thursday, August 31, 2006, a three hour gathering of Babarists called the Annual Black Rock City Non-Denominational Babarist Conventical was held by sojourners from Tempe, Arizona.
It has been nicknamed the Babarist Big Bang and the Babarist Bash. Conventical is likely a portmanteau of some words, one perhaps being convention. It was advertised with the description:
- "Comfort and guidance can be found at Babarist Babylon. Come to enjoy the Jungle Dome, stay for the enlightenment."
This was the first of a planned annual tradition to be held on the last Thursday of every August, at Black Rock City's Burning Man festival. It was held in the Babarist Babylon theme camp within the Jungle Dome  in the festival, created exclusively by Babarists for this purpose.
The second event planned for 2007 was going to be called the Second Annual Black Rock City, Non-Denominational Babarist Chapel.
The renaming from conventical to chapel indicates a more serious tone, as it uses a real word. What began as simply a joke in an expressionist festival shows this sign of transforming into a real way of life. It may also denote the construction of a temporary chapel.
A second event is indeed being held in Burning Man 2007. Still listed as a theme camp and still linking to the babarist.org website. The specific date of the event is currently unknown, the web site (which only references the 2006 event) describes it as occuring the last Thursday of every August. This would indicate August 30, 2007, a date one day earlier than the previous year. The event is not displayed for this or any already-passed date though, so it may be slotted to occur some time before Monday September 3 when the 2007 festival ends. This time, it is being held in Arcata, California. The religion has sustained a year's test of time, and has migrated through two of the United States. Babarist Babylon was this time described as:
- "Pure joy and enlightenment can be found under the luscious foliage of King Babar’s Jungle Canopy. Absorb the Babar’s lessons and shed the illusion of separation from the natural world as you accept the trunk within you."
The first (2006) burning man event was organized by a contact email@example.com. This is the address the web site references The second (2007) burning man event was organized by a contact firstname.lastname@example.org who is not listed on the web site. It is unknown if Ashton Don is the web site manager or affiliated with him in any way. Either way, the faith has obviously survived a year.
Other books in the Babar series are also highly thought of, but not given the same level of consideration as Brunhoff's works.
Some draw on the television series for information, though this is controversial and not wholly accepted.
Other books, though not directly affiliated with Babarism, are considered in line with the Church's beliefs, are "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum.
Babarism's Word of the Elephant preaches that the power the great elephant Ba-Bar compels followers to follow a path of good. The quality Babarists attempt to cultivate is referred to as being Elephantine. The religion reflects the high moral quality of the series seen demonstrated by those of Elephant City and Celesteville. A follower of Babarism is called a Babarist
To become a Babarist, a follower is "BaBar Mitzvahed". After this, one can become cleansed of evil by having a BaBaptism. Unlike the small amount of tepid water used in most other faith's baptisms, BaBaptisms are held under great sprinkler trucks. This is to emulate the great sprays of water that come from the holy elephants' trunks. Due to the wild nature of elephants, the water need not be extremely clean. While ideally elephants would do this, enslaving elephants to perform like this would be wrong, and likely enrage Ba-Bar, so it is simulated, at least until elephants can be found to perform the ceremony willingly.
Babarism encourages the attendance of a weekly mass for several reasons:
- Expressing love for the Word of Babar.
- Building Spiritual Strength.
- Fellowship with other Babarists.
- Obediance to Babar's Word.
Babarism encourages worshippers to help support their church in several ways:
- Commit to attend and participate
- Know and cooperate with your spiritual leaders
- Help shoulder responsibility
- Find and use your gifts
- Apply the teachings of the ministry to your life: "The consequences of what we do may determine the destiny of our friends, family, or acquaintances."
The faith of Babarism is kept by daily witnessing of four aspects:
- Elephantine life: Living honestly, witnessing and testifying the Word of Babar to family, friends and coworkers.
- Have the word of the Story of Babar accessible, either having the book on hand with key verses marked, or having the verses memorized.
- Yielding life to the spirit of Babar, praying to encounter those whose hearts are open to His message.
- In casual conversations when opportunity arises, testify as to how Babarism was discovered, invite them to pray to accept Babar's word at a local church, and teach them how to serve the King of the Elephants.
Relations with other forms of elephant worship
Babarism, the teachings of which are seeded within those who read or watched Babar as a child, is an innovate reemergence of human's honouring these creatures' slow-moving massive forms.
Alternative uses of Babarism
Besides the references to the religion based around Babar the Elephant, the term has also seen other uses, potentially even predating it.
- Mike Awoyinfa, a Nigerian political commentator, uses the term to describe people's excessive acts of worship for and adoration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, 'Baba' ('father') by the bootlickers that venerate him. He believes this will harm democracy and works to oppose it.