Cleansing by water throughout the ages and within the different faiths.
Baptism – a pre Christian history
The practice of baptism in pagan religions seems to have been based on a belief in the purifying properties of water. In ancient Babylon, according to the Tablets of Maklu, water was important as a spiritual cleansing agent in the cult of Enke, lord of Eridu. In Egypt, the Book of Going Forth by Day contains a treatise on the baptism of newborn children, which is performed to purify them of blemishes acquired in the womb. Water, especially the Nile’s cold water, which was believed to have regenerative powers, is used to baptize the dead in a ritual based on the Osiris myth. Egyptian cults also developed the idea of regeneration through water. The bath preceding initiation into the cult of Isis seems to have been more than a simple ritual purification; it was probably intended to represent symbolically the initiate’s death to the life of this world by recalling Osiris’ drowning in the Nile…
The Meaning of Water in Christianity by Alexander Pokhilko
“Moreover, the watery mystery is connected with the Holy Spirit, the Divine Person that accomplishes rebirth (John 3:5-6; Acts 8:39; cf. Acts 1-2).
From this we can see how the New Testament integrates Old Testament belief. Unlike the Old Testament, the role of water appears to be Christocentric and explicitly connected with the presence of the Holy Spirit. The element has taken on the symbol of spiritual grace. Moreover, the Old Testament concept of water prefigures the baptismal mystery. This meaning of water has been elaborately interpreted in Christian tradition. Let us now look at certain aspects of it.”
Lastly wikipedia gives an overview encompassing all Religions that use water for purification in Religious ceremonies.
Water and Religion From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Some faiths use water especially prepared for religious purposes (holy water in some Christian denominations, amrita in Sikhism and Hinduism). Many religions also consider particular sources or bodies of water to be sacred or at least auspicious; examples includeLourdes in Roman Catholicism, the Jordan River (at least symbolically) in some Christian churches, the Zamzam Well in Islam and the River Ganges (among many others) in Hinduism.
Modified on 19 March 2015, at 03:12.; accessed 9th April 2015