The Death And Dying Beliefs Of Australian — страница 4

  • Просмотров 356
  • Скачиваний 5
  • Размер файла 22

and come under control as they become centered in traditional manner. After this initial display of grief, the body is attended to and is usually shifted at once to the place of burial or preparation for the burial (Elkin, 1964). There is a standardized process of grief followed by the Aborigines. The self-inflicted pain and loud lamentings are not a measure of the grief actually felt. To a certain extent, the excessive display is due to tribal custom and as such has a very strong hold upon the imagination of a people whose every action is bound and limited by custom. There is also the fear that unless a sufficient amount of grief is displayed, he will be harmed by the offended spirit of the dead person (Spencer, 1968). All religions have some sort of purification rituals. The

Jews have many laws detailing ritual cleanliness and in the Hindu caste system those who touch the dead are the lowest caste (Parry, 1995). For the Aborigines, everything that was associated with the dead person is destroyed, avoided or purified. The campsite where the person died is deserted by the group, and the exact place of death is examined by the tribal elders and then marked completely deserted for years (Lawlor, 1991). Though he will no longer need his body as a means of action, it is weighted down, tied up, or the legs are broken so that he will not be able to wander. A zigzag path is followed to and from the grave site at the time of burial, or a smoke screen is passed through so that the spirit of the dead will not be able to follow the mourners (Elkin, 1964). Even in

the Roman Empire, the burial customs reflected the belief that the dead might come back and haunt the living (DeSpelder, 1996). Those who take part in the burial are brushed with smoking twigs, and the wives who were closely associated with the diseased during his lifetime, are usually separated from the general camp for a prescribed period of time.. Food taboos are observed and there are special ones adopted because the food was the deceased’s totem or was one of which he was fond. In all these ways, the deceased, the thought of death and the gap caused by it are banished from consciousness. When the various taboos have been lifted, the widow is remarried or the widower resumes his habitual ways of living and society regains its equilibrium. The society ?bequeaths to the past

the associations of death, and faces the future with renewed hope and courage.? (Elkin, 1964) Burial practices of the Aborigines are meant to prepare the spirit of the dead person for its new life as well as a mark of respect. Within the Arunta tribe, the body is buried in a relatively short period of time. It is placed in a sitting position with the knees doubled up against the chin and is interred in a round hole in the ground. The earth is pile directly onto the body so as to make a low mound with a depression on one side (van Beek, 1975). There are many forms of burial used by the Aborigines. These forms include interment, mummification, cremation, platform-exposure and delayed burial, and burial in hollow trees. There is a wide spread distribution of a two-fold burial

procedure, with the consequent lengthening of the time of the mourning ritual. So persistent is the idea that it is seen in many forms. The different combinations include platform exposure and delayed burial, mummification and final disposal, interment and disinterment for later mourning over bones, and in the removal of bones from one grave to another. Such procedures emphasize the significance of death and the length of time the society requires to adjust itself to the death (Elkin, 1964). Although Aboriginal burial are usually long and elaborate and the disposal of the corpse can be complex, the ritual focuses on the spiritual ramifications of death, not physical disposal or preservation. The primary goal of Aboriginal funeral rites is to safeguard the well-being of the

living. The correct funeral procedures and rituals are valued for their benefit to the living (Lawlor, 1991). As in ancient Egyptian and other traditions, the Aboriginal journey to the other world is imagined in a sacred bark or spirit canoe with a mythic ferryman at its helm. Water itself is often used symbolically and associated with death, especially in African culture (Parry, 1995). The ancient Greeks also had such a belief with the skeletal ferryman, Charon, who travels the River Styx to the Underworld. The spirit canoe sets out across the sea to the island of the dead. In many world myths the helmsman is an important figure at the beginning of the journey toward death. In the Aboriginal belief, he is always abusive. He beats the men and rapes or demands sex with women. The