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Hut or lodge used for ritual purification. Its use originated with Native Americansfor whom it remains a significant ceremonybut it is now common among other non-Indian groups who recognize its health as well as spiritual benefits. The structure of the sweat lodge is usually made of bent saplings and skin or blanket coverings and is heated by steam from water poured on hot stones. A ceremony typically surrounds the lodge's construction and use. Some groups believe the lodge becomes a symbolic centre in which the six cardinal directions, the past and present, and the human and spiritual worlds are connected.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sweat lodge, visit Britannica.com.