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65. RELIGIOUS PRACTICES: The Role of Ancestors

Are past generations of ancestors remembered? Are they honored? In what way? Is there a difference between how male ancestors or female ancestors are honored?

How important is this nationally? for the family? to the individual? for the deceased?

Is there a special time locally or nationally when ancestors are remembered? What is done at this time?

Does the family make regular visits to the gravesite(s)?

  • How often do they go?
  • What do they do there?
  • What other activities are done by the family to remember their loved ones?
  • Are there special ancestral shrines?
  • Where are they, and what objects are kept there? How are they used?
  • What other activities are done by family members to care for the needs of their ancestors?

Are ancestors considered benevolent extensions of the earthly family unit?

  • If so, what are the obligations expected to be carried out by the living for the dead?
  • By the dead for the living? For how long?
  • Who in the family makes sure these obligations are carried out?
  • Are there pictures of the deceased in the home?
  • Are they in a special place for remembrance, intercession, or prayer?
  • Are pictures taken of the dead body and put in a special place?

Are the ancestors feared as spirits which might harm the living?

  • How many generations need to pass before the harm is mitigated?
  • What needs to be done by the family to block potential harm?
  • What things offend to the ancestors?
  • If they are offended, what may they do to the living?
  • What must be done to placate their displeasure?

Are ancestors consulted?

  • How often and in what way?
  • Are séances held? When, where and why?
  • What can ancestors do to help the living that the other spirits or gods cannot or will not do?

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