Death Rituals in Different Cultures

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Date Submitted: 01/15/2013 12:26 PM

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SOC 3560-OL1

FALL 2010

Death though universal has always been a taboo subject in most culture. It is an inevitable passage of a human being and every living soul. Death can be considered as a rite of passage because every living thing has to go through it. Death ritual is said by Peter Metcalf to emphasize luminosity more than other rite of passage because it is the most powerful and mysterious of the changes of states that punctuates the human life cycle. Rodney Needham also said that death is unique among rites of passage in the fact that we can never know the final state the dead enter at the end of the ritual, despite the tendency of funerals to refer, through words or symbols, to whatever local beliefs exist concerning the ultimate fate of the dead. Our interest here is to compare and contrast the death rituals of the dominant culture, white middle class Christians with that of a non dominant culture, we have chosen the African culture as our non dominant culture. Since death is inevitable human beings came up with some rituals to help them cope with the issue of death and say goodbye to their loved ones that die. Lets take a look at how it is done in general in Africa and with Africans that live in America.

There are many different death rituals in Africa that are observed. But there is one commonality though; most people believe that only a correct burial will bring a dead person peace.

A correct funeral in Africa begins with the removal of the body from the home. When someone dies the person is immediately removed from the home and placed to the burial house for preparation of the corpse. When it is time to remove the body from the home, it is taken out feet first. This is to keep the spirit from finding an easy way back into the home. As the body is being transported to the...

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