In The Lion King, Simba has a special birth and marked destiny. Simba’s baptism is one example of this. Rafiki, the kingdoms witchdoctor, performs the ceremony on Pride Rock, surrounded by family and all the kingdom’s animals. The ceremony consists of Rafiki taking Simba in his arms and shaking a gourd over his head. He then proceeds to crack the gourd and smears a line of the substance across Simba’s forehead. This is then followed by sprinkling dust over Simba.
In this baptism, the contents of the gourd could represent life, where the dust could represent death.
When Rafiki finishes the ceremony, he holds baby Simba high in the air for the entire kingdom to see. The animals all cheer and bow, the clouds part, and a light shines down on Simba. This could be seen as a representation of Heaven, and God welcoming Simba to the world.
The baptism seen in The Lion King alludes to both Christian and West African ceremonies. In Christian baptism, holy water is placed on the head, or sometimes entire body. This is done to wash away sins and signifies the new life in Christ. The content of the gourd in the movie represents the holy water used Christian baptisms.
In West African ceremonies, there is a large gathering to present the new life. When everyone has gathered, the Grandfather takes on the role of presenting the name to the child. In The Lion King, all the animals gather together to view the child, and Rafiki presents the child and name.