Why did the author of beowulf make such a point to describe the "heathen"rituals used to try and ward off grendel?

it is in the beginning/middle of the book. my questions are based off a 57 page summary though, unless that is the entire book?

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That could be the full poem, if it's written in verse. The purpose of this work, an epic poem is not just to tell a story but also to memorialize the culture that it relates. The rituals of a culture are one of its touchstones, so the singer/writer would want to emphasize those for an audience who would want to remember/appreciate those details. But the failure of those rituals also sets the way for the hero, Beowulf, to save the day through heroism.