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The
veneration Veneration ( la, veneratio; el, τιμάω ), or veneration of saints, is the act of honoring a saint, a person who has been identified as having a high degree of sanctity or holiness. Angels are shown similar veneration in many religions. Etymo ...
of the dead, including one's
ancestor An ancestor, also known as a forefather, fore-elder or a forebear, is a parent or (Recursion, recursively) the parent of an antecedent (i.e., a grandparent, great-grandparent, great-great-grandparent and so forth). ''Ancestor'' is "any person ...
s, is based on love and respect for the deceased. In some cultures, it is related to
belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition is truth, true. In epistemology, philosophers use the term "belief" to refer to attitudes about the world which can be either truth value, true o ...
s that the dead have a continued existence, and may possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Some groups venerate their direct, familial ancestors. Certain sects and religions, in particular the
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptized members. It operates as a Communion (Christ ...
and
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
, venerate
saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness, likeness, or closeness to God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of ...
s as intercessors with God; the latter also believes in prayer for departed souls in
Purgatory Purgatory (, borrowed into English language, English via Anglo-Norman language, Anglo-Norman and Old French) is, according to the belief of some Christianity, Christian denominations (mostly Catholic), an intermediate state after physical death ...
. Other religious groups, however, consider veneration of the dead to be
idolatry Idolatry is the worship of a cult image or "idol" as though it were God. In Abrahamic religions (namely Judaism, Samaritanism, Christianity, the Baháʼí Faith, and Islam) idolatry connotes the worship of something or someone other than the Go ...
and a sin. In European, Asian, Oceanian, African and Afro-diasporic cultures, the goal of ancestor
veneration Veneration ( la, veneratio; el, τιμάω ), or veneration of saints, is the act of honoring a saint, a person who has been identified as having a high degree of sanctity or holiness. Angels are shown similar veneration in many religions. Etymo ...
is to ensure the ancestors' continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living, and sometimes to ask for special favours or assistance. The social or non-religious function of ancestor veneration is to cultivate
kinship In anthropology, kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact meanings even within this discipline are often debated. Anthropologist Robin Fox says that ...
values, such as
filial piety In Confucian ethics, Confucianism, Chinese Buddhist ethics, Buddhism, and Daoism, Daoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xiào'') (Latin: pietas) is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. The Confucian ''Classic of Filial Piety ...
, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage. Ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various
religious Religion is usually defined as a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, sacred site, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecie ...
practices in modern times.


Overview

Ancestor reverence is not the same as the
worship Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity A deity or god is a supernatural being who is considered divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a god In monotheistic thought ...
of a
deity A deity or god is a supernatural being who is considered divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionary of English'' defines deity as a god In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of ...
or deities. In some Afro-diasporic cultures, ancestors are seen as being able to intercede on behalf of the living, often as messengers between humans and God. As spirits who were once human themselves, they are seen as being better able to understand human needs than would a divine being. In other cultures, the purpose of ancestor veneration is not to ask for favors but to do one's filial duty. Some cultures believe that their ancestors actually need to be provided for by their descendants, and their practices include offerings of food and other provisions. Others do not believe that the ancestors are even aware of what their descendants do for them, but that the expression of
filial piety In Confucian ethics, Confucianism, Chinese Buddhist ethics, Buddhism, and Daoism, Daoist ethics, filial piety (, ''xiào'') (Latin: pietas) is a virtue of respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. The Confucian ''Classic of Filial Piety ...
is what is important. Most cultures who practice ancestor veneration do not call it "ancestor worship". In English, the word ''worship'' usually but not always refers to the reverent love and devotion accorded a deity (god) or
God In monotheistic thought, God is usually viewed as the supreme being, creator, and principal object of faith. Swinburne, R.G. "God" in Honderich, Ted. (ed)''The Oxford Companion to Philosophy'', Oxford University Press, 1995. God is typicall ...
. However, in other cultures, this act of worship does not confer any belief that the departed ancestors have become some kind of deity. Rather, the act is a way to express filial duty, devotion and respect and look after ancestors in their afterlives as well as seek their guidance for their living descendants. In this regard, many cultures and religions have similar practices. Some may visit the graves of their parents or other ancestors, leave flowers and pray to them in order to honor and remember them, while also asking their ancestors to continue to look after them. However, this would not be considered as worshiping them since the term ''worship'' may not always convey such meaning in the exclusive and narrow context of certain Western European Christian traditions. In that sense the phrase ''ancestor veneration'' may but from the limited perspective of certain Western European Christian traditions, convey a more accurate sense of what practitioners, such as the Chinese and other Buddhist-influenced and Confucian-influenced societies, as well as the African and European cultures see themselves as doing. This is consistent with the meaning of the word ''
veneration Veneration ( la, veneratio; el, τιμάω ), or veneration of saints, is the act of honoring a saint, a person who has been identified as having a high degree of sanctity or holiness. Angels are shown similar veneration in many religions. Etymo ...
'' in English, that is great respect or reverence caused by the dignity, wisdom, or dedication of a person. Although there is no generally accepted theory concerning the origins of ancestor veneration, this social phenomenon appears in some form in all human cultures documented so far. David-Barrett and Carney claim that ancestor veneration might have served a group coordination role during
human evolution Human evolution is the evolutionary process within the Primate evolution, history of primates that led to the emergence of ''Homo sapiens'' as a distinct species of the hominid family, which includes the great apes. This process involved the grad ...
, and thus it was the mechanism that led to religious representation fostering
group cohesion Group cohesiveness (also called group cohesion and social cohesion) arises when bonds link members of a social group to one another and to the group as a whole. Although cohesion is a multi-faceted process, it can be broken down into four main co ...
.


West and Southeast African cultures

Ancestor veneration is prevalent throughout Africa, and serves as the basis of many religions. It is often augmented by a belief in a supreme being, but prayers and/or sacrifices are usually offered to the ancestors who may ascend to becoming a kind of minor deities themselves. Ancestor veneration remains among many Africans, sometimes practiced alongside the later adopted religions of Christianity (as in Nigeria among the
Igbo people The Igbo people ( , ; also spelled Ibo" and formerly also ''Iboe'', ''Ebo'', ''Eboe'', * * * ''Eboans'', ''Heebo''; natively ) are an ethnic group in Nigeria. They are primarily found in Abia State, Abia, Anambra State, Anambra, Ebonyi St ...
), and Islam (among the different Mandé peoples and the Bamum and the Bakossi people) in much of the continent. In orthodox
Serer religion The Serer religion, or ''a ƭat Roog'' ("the way of the Divine"), is the original religious beliefs, practices, and teachings of the Serer people of Senegal in West Africa. The Serer religion believes in a universal Creator deity, supreme deity ...
, the pangool is venerated by the
Serer people The Serer people are a West African ethnoreligious group.Issa Laye Thiaw, Thiaw, Issa Laye, ''La Religiosité des Sereer, Avant et Pendant Leur Islamisation''. Éthiopiques, No: 54, Revue Semestrielle de Culture Négro-Africaine. Nouvelle Série, ...
.


Serer of Senegal and Gambia

The Seereer people of Senegal, The Gambia and Mauritania who adhere to the tenets of A ƭat Roog (Seereer religion) believe in the veneration of the pangool (ancient Seereer saints and/or ancestral spirits). There are various types of pangool (singular: ''fangol''), each with its own means of veneration.


Madagascar

Veneration of ancestors is prevalent throughout the island of
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara, ), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately off the coast of East Afric ...
. Approximately half of the country's population of 20 million currently practice traditional religion, which tends to emphasize links between the living and the ''razana'' (ancestors). The veneration of ancestors has led to the widespread tradition of tomb building, as well as the highlands practice of the '' famadihana'', whereby a deceased family member's remains may be exhumed to be periodically re-wrapped in fresh silk shrouds before being replaced in the tomb. The famadihana is an occasion to celebrate the beloved ancestor's memory, reunite with family and community, and enjoy a festive atmosphere. Residents of surrounding villages are often invited to attend the party, where food and rum are typically served and a hiragasy troupe or other musical entertainment is commonly present. Veneration of ancestors is also demonstrated through adherence to '' fady'', taboos that are respected during and after the lifetime of the person who establishes them. It is widely believed that by showing respect for ancestors in these ways, they may intervene on behalf of the living. Conversely, misfortunes are often attributed to ancestors whose memory or wishes have been neglected. The sacrifice of
zebu The zebu (; ''Bos indicus'' or ''Bos taurus indicus''), sometimes known in the plural as indicine cattle or humped cattle, is a species or subspecies of domestic cattle originating in the Indian sub-continent. Zebu are characterised by a fatty h ...
is a traditional method used to appease or honor the ancestors. Small, everyday gestures of respect include throwing the first capful of a newly opened bottle of rum into the northeast corner of the room to give the ancestors their due share.Bradt (2011), pp. 13–20


Asian cultures


Cambodia

During Pchum Ben and the Cambodian New Year people make offerings to their ancestors. Pchum Ben is a time when many Cambodians pay their respects to deceased relatives of up to seven generations. Monks chant the
suttas Buddhist texts are those religious text Religious texts, including scripture, are Text (literary theory), texts which various religions consider to be of central importance to their religious tradition. They differ from literature by ...
in
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan languages, Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the Buddhist ''Pali Canon, Pāli Canon'' or ''Tripiṭaka, Tipiṭaka'' as ...
language overnight (continuously, without sleeping) in prelude to the gates of hell opening, an event that is presumed to occur once a year, and is linked to the cosmology of King
Yama Yama (Devanagari: यम) or Yamarāja (यमराज), is a deity of death, dharma, the south direction, and the underworld who predominantly features in deva (Hinduism), Hindu and deva (Buddhism), Buddhist religion, belonging to an early s ...
originating in the
Pali Canon The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhism, Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language. It is the most complete extant Early Buddhist texts, early Buddhist canon. It derives mainly from the ...
. During this period, the gates of hell are opened and ghosts of the dead (
preta Preta ( sa, प्रेत, bo, ཡི་དྭགས་ ''yi dags''), also known as hungry ghost, is the Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan languag ...
) are presumed to be especially active. In order to combat this, food-offerings are made to benefit them, some of these ghosts having the opportunity to end their period of purgation, whereas others are imagined to leave hell temporarily, to then return to endure more suffering; without much explanation, relatives who are not in hell (who are in heaven or otherwise reincarnated) are also generally imagined to benefit from the ceremonies.


China

In China IN, In or in may refer to: Places * India (country code IN) * Indiana, United States (postal code IN) * Ingolstadt, Germany (license plate code IN) * In, Russia, a town in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast Businesses and organizations * Independ ...
, ancestor veneration (敬祖,
pinyin Hanyu Pinyin (), often shortened to just pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in China, and to some extent, in Singapore and Malaysia. It is often used to teach Mandarin, normally writte ...
: ''jìngzǔ'') and ancestor worship (拜祖,
pinyin Hanyu Pinyin (), often shortened to just pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in China, and to some extent, in Singapore and Malaysia. It is often used to teach Mandarin, normally writte ...
: ''bàizǔ'') seek to honour and recollect the actions of the deceased; they represent the ultimate homage to the dead. The importance of paying respect to parents (and elders) lies with the fact that all physical bodily aspects of one's being were created by one's parents, who continued to tend to one's well-being until one was on firm footing. The respect and homage to parents is to return this gracious deed to them in life and after. The ''shi'' (尸; "corpse, personator") was a
Zhou dynasty The Zhou dynasty ( ; Old Chinese (Reconstructions of Old Chinese#Baxter–Sagart (2014), B&S): *''tiw'') was a Dynasties in Chinese history, royal dynasty of China that followed the Shang dynasty. Having lasted 789 years, the Zhou dynasty was t ...
() sacrificial representative of a dead relative. During a ''shi'' ceremony, the ancestral spirit supposedly would enter the personator, who would eat and drink sacrificial offerings and convey spiritual messages.


Offerings

In traditional Chinese culture, sacrifices are sometimes made to altars as food for the deceased. This falls under the modes of communication with the Chinese spiritual world concepts. Some of the veneration includes visiting the deceased at their graves, and making or buying offerings for the deceased in the Spring,
Autumn Autumn, also known as fall in American English American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. English is th ...
, and
Ghost Festival The Ghost Festival, also known as the Zhongyuan Festival (Traditional Chinese characters, traditional Chinese: 中元節; Simplified Chinese characters, simplified Chinese: ) in Taoism and Yulanpen Festival () in Buddhism, is a traditional T ...
s. Due to the hardships of the late 19th- and 20th-century China, when meat and poultry were difficult to come by, sumptuous feasts are still offered in some Asian countries as a practice to the spirits or ancestors. However, in the orthodox
Taoist Taoism (, ) or Daoism () refers to either a school of Philosophy, philosophical thought (道家; ''daojia'') or to a religion (道教; ''daojiao''), both of which share ideas and concepts of China, Chinese origin and emphasize living in harmo ...
and Buddhist rituals, only vegetarian food would suffice. For those with deceased in the afterlife or
hell In religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or religious organization, organizations, that ...
, elaborate or even creative offerings, such as
servants A domestic worker or domestic servant is a person who works within the scope of a residence. The term "domestic service" applies to the equivalent occupational category. In traditional English contexts, such a person was said to be "in service ...
,
refrigerator A refrigerator, colloquially fridge, is a commercial and home appliance consisting of a thermal insulation, thermally insulated compartment and a heat pump (mechanical, electronic or chemical) that transfers heat from its inside to its externa ...
s,
house A house is a single-unit residential building. It may range in complexity from a rudimentary hut to a complex structure of wood, masonry, concrete or other material, outfitted with plumbing, electrical, and heating, ventilation, and air condit ...
s,
car A car or automobile is a motor vehicle with Wheel, wheels. Most definitions of ''cars'' say that they run primarily on roads, Car seat, seat one to eight people, have four wheels, and mainly transport private transport#Personal transport, pe ...
, paper money and
shoe A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the Foot, human foot. They are often worn with a sock. Shoes are also used as an item of decoration and fashion. The design of shoes has varied enormously through time and from cult ...
s are provided so that the deceased will be able to have these items after they have died. Often, paper versions of these objects are burned for the same purpose. Originally, real-life objects were buried with the dead. In time these goods were replaced by full size clay models which in turn were replaced by scale models, and in time today's paper offerings (including paper servants).


India

Ancestors are widely revered, honoured, and venerated in India and China. The spirit of a dead person is called
Pitrs The pitrs () are the spirits of departed ancestors in Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religions, Indian religion or ''dharma'', a religious and universal order or way of life by which followers abide. As a religion, it is the Major reli ...
, which is venerated. When a person dies, the family observes a thirteen-day mourning period, generally called '' śrāddha''. A year thence, they observe the ritual of Tarpan, in which the family makes offerings to the deceased. During these rituals, the family prepares the food items that the deceased liked and offers food to the deceased. They offer this food to crows as well on certain days as it is believed that the soul comes in the form of a bird to taste it. They are also obliged to offer ''śrāddha'', a small feast of specific preparations, to eligible
Brahmin Brahmin (; sa, ब्राह्मण, brāhmaṇa) is a Varna (Hinduism), varna as well as a caste within Hindu society. The Brahmins are designated as the priestly class as they serve as Hindu priest, priests (purohit, pandit, or pujari) ...
s. Only after these rituals are the family members allowed to eat. It is believed that this reminds the ancestor's spirits that they are not forgotten and are loved, so it brings them peace. On Shradh days, people pray that the souls of ancestors be appeased, forget any animosity and find peace. Each year, on the particular date (as per the
Hindu calendar The Hindu calendar, Panchanga () or Panjika is one of various lunisolar calendars that are traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, with further regional variations for social and Hindu religious purposes. They adopt a s ...
) when the person had died, the family members repeat this ritual. Indian and Chinese practices of ancestor-worship are prevalent throughout Asia as a result of the large Indian and Chinese populations in countries such as
Singapore Singapore (), officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island country, island country and city-state in maritime Southeast Asia. It lies about one degree of latitude () north of the equator, off the southern tip of the Malay Pen ...
,
Malaysia Malaysia ( ; ) is a country in Southeast Asia. The federation, federal constitutional monarchy consists of States and federal territories of Malaysia, thirteen states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two r ...
,
Indonesia Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of over List of islands of Indonesia, 17,000 islands, including Sumatr ...
, and elsewhere across the continent. Furthermore, the large Indian population in places such as
Fiji Fiji ( , ,; fj, Viti, ; Fiji Hindi: फ़िजी, ''Fijī''), officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about north-northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists ...
and
Guyana Guyana ( or ), officially the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, is a country on the northern mainland of South America. Guyana is an indigenous word which means "Land of Many Waters". The capital city is Georgetown Guyana, Georgetown. Guyana ...
has resulted in these practices spreading beyond their Asian homeland.


Assam

The
Ahom religion The Ahom religion is the ethnic religion of the Ahom people. The Ahom people came into Assam in 1228, led by a Tai people, Tai prince Sukaphaa, and admixed with the local people. The people who came into Assam included two clans of priests, joine ...
is based on ancestor-worship. The Ahoms believe that a man after his death remains as ‘Dam’(ancestor) only for a few days and soon he becomes ‘Phi’ (God). They also believe that the soul of a man which is immortal unites with the supreme soul, possesses the qualities of a spiritual being and always blesses the family. So every Ahom family in order to worship the dead establish a pillar on the opposite side of the kitchen (Barghar) which is called ‘Damkhuta’ where they worship the dead with various offerings like homemade wine, mah-prasad, rice with various items of meat and fish. Me-Dam-Me-Phi, a ritual centred on commemorating the dead, is celebrated by the
Ahom people The Ahom (Pron: ), or Tai-Ahom is an ethnic group from the Indian states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The members of this group are admixed descendants of the Tai people who reached the Brahmaputra valley of Assam in 1228 and the local indi ...
on 31 January every year in memory of the departed. It is the manifestation of the concept of ancestor worship that the Ahoms share with other peoples originating from the Tai-Shan stock. It is a festival to show respect to the departed ancestors and remember their contribution to society. On the day of Me-Dam Me Phi worship is offered only to Chaufi and Dam Chaufi because they are regarded as gods of heaven.


Indus Valley Civilization

At
Rakhigarhi Rakhigarhi or Rakhi Garhi is a village and an archaeological site belonging to the Indus Valley civilisation The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC), also known as the Indus Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern ...
, an
Indus Valley civilization The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC), also known as the Indus Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 Common Era, BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form 2600 B ...
(IVC) site in
Haryana Haryana (; ) is an Indian state located in the northern part of the country. It was carved out of the former state of East Punjab on 1 Nov 1966 on a linguistic basis. It is ranked 21st in terms of area, with less than 1.4% () of India's land ...
, the lover's skeletons of a man between 35 and 40 years old and women in early 20s were found who were likely married to each other and buried together, their grave contained pots which likely carried food and water as offering to the dead.Ancient lovers found in Indian burial site mystify and intrigue archaeologists
CNN, January 10, 2019.
Vasant Shinde1, et al, 2018
A young couple's grave found in the Rakhigarhi cemetery of the Harappan Civilization
Anatomy & Cell Biology, vol 51 (3), pp. 200-204.


Paliya in Gujarat

The ''
Paliya The Paliya or Khambhi is a type of a memorial A memorial is an object or place which serves as a focus for the memory or the commemoration of something, usually an influential, deceased person or a historical, Tragedy (event), tragic event. Po ...
'' memorial stones are associated with ancestral worship in western India. These memorials are worshiped by people of associated community or decedents of a person on special days such as death day of person, event anniversaries, festivals, auspicious days in Kartika,
Shraavana Śrāvaṇa ( sa, श्रावण) is the fifth month of the Hindu calendar The Hindu calendar, Panchanga () or Panjika is one of various lunisolar calendars that are traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, wi ...
or
Bhadrapada Bhadra or Bhadrapada or Bhādo or Bhadraba ( Bengali: ভাদ্র ''bhādro''; ) ( Hindi: भादों ''bhādo''; )(Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Ind ...
months of
Hindu calendar The Hindu calendar, Panchanga () or Panjika is one of various lunisolar calendars that are traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, with further regional variations for social and Hindu religious purposes. They adopt a s ...
. These memorials are washed with milk and water on these days. They are smeared with
sindoor Sindooram is a traditional vermilion red or orange-red coloured Cosmetics, cosmetic powder (substance), powder from the Indian subcontinent, usually worn by marriage, married women along the part of their hairline. In Hindu communities the si ...
or
kumkum Kumkuma is a powder used for social and religious markings in India. It is made from turmeric or any other local materials. The turmeric is dried and powdered with a bit of slaked lime, which turns the rich yellow powder into a red color. In Indi ...
and flowers are scattered over it. The earthen lamp is lighted near it with sesame oil. Sometimes a flag is erected over it.


Pitru Paksha in Indian-origin religions

Apart from this, there is also a fortnight-long duration each year called ''
Pitru Paksha Pitru Paksha ( sa, पितृ पक्ष, ; Literal translation, lit. "fortnight of the paternal ancestors") is a 16–lunar day paksha, period in Hindu calendar when Hindus Veneration of the dead, pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), espe ...
'' ("fortnight of ancestors"), when the family remembers all its ancestors and offers "Tarpan" to them. This period falls just before the
Navratri Navaratri is an annual Hindu festivals, Hindu festival observed in the honour of the goddess Durga. It spans over nine nights (and ten days), first in the month of Chaitra (March/April of the Gregorian calendar), and again in the month of ...
or
Durga Puja Durga Puja ( bn, দুর্গা পূজা), also known as Durgotsava or Sharodotsava, is an annual Hindu festival originating in the Indian subcontinent which reveres and pays homage to the Hindu goddess Durga and is also celebrated ...
falling in the month of
Ashwin Ashvin or Ashwin or Ashwan (; bn, আশ্বিন; hi, आश्विन; or, ଆଶ୍ୱିନ; Malay/ Indonesian: ''Aswin''; Thai: ''Asawin''), also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar The Hind ...
. Mahalaya marks the end of the fortnight-long Tarpan to the ancestors.


Tuluva Culture in Tulu Nadu

Tuluvas have the ancestor worship in the name of
Buta Kola Būta Kōlā,/buːt̪ʌ/ is the local pronunciation while the standardised Kannada pronunciation is Help:IPA/Kannada, /bʱuːt̪ʌ koːlɑː/ also referred to as daiva kōlā or nēmā, is a Ceremonial dance, ritual dance performance prevalen ...
.


Indonesia

In Indonesia ancestor worship has been a tradition of some of the indigenous people. Podom of the Toba Batak, Waruga of the
Minahasa The Minahasans (alternative spelling: Minahassa) are an ethnic group native to the North Sulawesi province of Indonesia, formerly known as North Celebes. The Minahasa people sometimes refer to themselves as Manado people. Although the Minahasan p ...
ns and the coffins of the
Karo people (Indonesia) The Karo, or Karonese, are a people of the ''Tanah Karo'' (Karo lands) and part one of Batak people sub-ethnic group from North Sumatera, Indonesia. The Karo lands consist of Karo Regency, plus neighboring areas in East Aceh Regency, Langkat Rege ...
are a few examples of the forms the veneration takes.


Japan

Before the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, ancestor worship and funerary rites were not common, especially for non-elites. In the Heian Period, abandonment was a common method of disposing of the dead. Following the advent of Buddhism, rituals were sometimes performed at the gravesite after burial or cremation.


Korea

In
Korea Korea ( ko, 한국, or , ) is a peninsular region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, with North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) comprising its northern half and Sout ...
, ancestor veneration is referred to by the generic term '' jerye'' (hangul: 제례; hanja: ) or ''
jesa Jesa (, ) is a ceremony commonly practiced in the East Asian cultural sphere. Jesa functions as a Ancestor veneration, memorial to the ancestors of the participants. Jesa are usually held on the anniversary of the ancestor's death. The majorit ...
'' (hangul: 제사; hanja: ). Notable examples of ''jerye'' include '' Munmyo jerye'' and '' Jongmyo jerye'', which are performed periodically each year for venerated Confucian scholars and kings of ancient times, respectively. The ceremony held on the
anniversary An anniversary is the date on which an event took place or an institution Institutions are humanly devised structures of rules and norms that shape and constrain individual behavior. All definitions of institutions generally entail that ...
of a family member's death is called ''charye'' (차례). It is still practiced today. The majority of Catholics, Buddhists and nonbelievers practice ancestral rites, although Protestants do not. The Catholic ban on ancestral rituals was lifted in 1939, when the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
formally recognized ancestral rites as a civil practice. Ancestral rites are typically divided into three categories: # Charye (차례, 茶禮) – tea rites held four times a year on major holidays (
Korean New Year Seollal () is a festival and national holiday commemorating the first day of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. It is one of the most important traditional holidays in both North and South Korea. The celebration usually lasts three days: the day ...
,
Chuseok ''Chuseok'' (; , literally "autumn evening"), also known as ''Hangawi'' (Hangul: ; ; from Old Korean, archaic Korean for "the great middle (of autumn)"), is a major mid-autumn harvest festival and a three-day holiday in Holidays in South Korea ...
) # Kije (기제, 忌祭) – household rites held the night before an ancestor's death anniversary (기일, 忌日) # Sije (시제, 時祭; also called 사시제 or 四時祭) – seasonal rites held for ancestors who are five or more generations removed (typically performed annually on the tenth lunar month)


Myanmar

Ancestor worship in modern-day Myanmar is largely confined to some ethnic minority communities, but mainstream remnants of it still exist, such as worship of Bo Bo Gyi (literally "great grandfather"), as well as of other guardian spirits such as nats, all of which may be vestiges of historic ancestor worship. Ancestor worship was present in the royal court in pre-colonial Burma. During the
Konbaung dynasty The Konbaung dynasty ( my, ကုန်းဘောင်ခေတ်, ), also known as Third Burmese Empire (တတိယမြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်) and formerly known as the Alompra dynasty (အလောင်းဘ ...
, solid
gold Gold is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Au (from la, aurum) and atomic number 79. This makes it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. It is a Brightness, bright, slightly orange-yellow, dense, s ...
images of deceased kings and their consorts were worshiped three times a year by the royal family, during the Burmese New Year (''
Thingyan Thingyan (, ; Arakanese: ; from Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominalization, nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South As ...
''), at the beginning and at the end of
Vassa The ''Vassa'' ( pi, vassa-, script=Latn, sa, varṣa-, script=Latn, both "rain") is the three-month annual retreat observed by Theravada ''Theravāda'' () ( si, ථේරවාදය, my, ထေရဝါဒ, th, เถรวาท, k ...
. The images were stored in the treasury and worshiped at the Zetawunzaung (, "Hall of Ancestors"), along with a book of odes. Some scholars attribute the disappearance of ancestor worship to the influence of
Buddhist Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on teachings attributed to the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha, was a ...
doctrines of
anicca Impermanence, also known as the philosophical problem of change, is a philosophical concept addressed in a variety of religions and philosophies. In Eastern philosophy it is notable for its role in the Buddhism, Buddhist three marks of existenc ...
and anatta, impermanence and rejection of a 'self'.


Philippines

In the
animistic Animism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around prese ...
indigenous religions Indigenous religions is a category used in the Religious studies, study of religion to demarcate the religion, religious belief systems of communities described as being "indigenous people, indigenous". This category is often juxtaposed against o ...
of the precolonial
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...
, ancestor spirits were one of the two major types of spirits (''
anito ''Anito'', also spelled ''anitu'', refers to ancestor spirits, nature spirits, and deities in the indigenous Philippine folk religions from the History of the Philippines (900–1521), precolonial age to the present, although the term itse ...
'') with whom shamans communicate. Ancestor spirits were known as ''umalagad'' (lit. "guardian" or "caretaker"). They can be the spirits of actual ancestors or generalized guardian spirits of a family. Ancient Filipinos believed that upon death, the soul of a person travels (usually by boat) to a spirit world. There can be multiple locations in the spirit world, varying in different ethnic groups. Which place souls end up in depends on how they died, the age at death, or conduct of the person when they were alive. Souls reunite with deceased relatives in the underworld and lead normal lives in the underworld as they did in the material world. In some cases, the souls of evil people undergo penance and cleansing before they are granted entrance into a particular spirit realm. Souls would eventually reincarnate after a period of time in the spirit world. Souls in the spirit world still retain a degree of influence in the material world, and vice versa. '' Paganito'' rituals may be used to invoke good ancestor spirits for protection, intercession, or advice. Vengeful spirits of the dead can manifest as apparitions or ghosts (''mantiw'') and cause harm to living people. ''Paganito'' can be used to appease or banish them. Ancestor spirits also figured prominently during illness or death, as they were believed to be the ones who call the soul to the underworld, guide the soul (a
psychopomp Psychopomps (from the Greek word , , literally meaning the 'guide of souls') are supernatural creatures, spirits, entities, angels, demons or deities in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls from Earth to the afte ...
), or meet the soul upon arrival. Ancestor spirits are also known as ''kalading'' among the Cordillerans; ''tonong'' among the
Maguindanao Maguindanao (, Maguindanao language, Maguindanaon: ''Prubinsya nu Magindanaw''; Iranun language, Iranun'': Perobinsia a Magindanao''; tl, Lalawigan ng Maguindanao) was a Provinces of the Philippines, province of the Philippines located in the ...
and
Maranao The Maranao people (Maranao: mәranaw Filipino language, Filipino: ''Maranaw''), also spelled Meranao, Maranaw, and Mëranaw, is the term used by the Philippine government to refer to the southern Indigenous peoples, indigenous people wh ...
; ''umboh'' among the
Sama-Bajau The Sama-Bajau include several Austronesian people, Austronesian ethnic groups of Maritime Southeast Asia. The name collectively refers to related people who usually call themselves the Sama or Samah (formally A'a Sama, "Sama people"); or are ...
; ''ninunò'' among Tagalogs; and ''nono'' among Bicolanos. Ancestor spirits are usually represented by carved figures called ''taotao''. These were carved by the community upon a person's death. Every household had a ''taotao'' stored in a shelf in the corner of the house. The predominantly
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus (Romulus and Remus, legendary) , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan c ...
Filipino people still hold ancestors in particular esteem—though without the formality common to their neighbours—despite having been Christianised since coming into contact with Spanish missionaries in 1521. In the present day, ancestor veneration is expressed in having photographs of the dead by the home altar, a common fixture in many Filipino Christian homes. Candles are often kept burning before the photographs, which are sometimes decorated with garlands of fresh
sampaguita ''Jasminum sambac'' (Arabian jasmine or Sambac jasmine) is a species of jasmine Indigenous (ecology), native to tropical Asia, from the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia. It is cultivated in many places, especially West Asia, South Asia and ...
, the national flower. Ancestors, particularly dead parents, are still regarded as psychopomps, as a dying person is said to be brought to the afterlife ( Tagalog: ''sundô'', "fetch") by the spirits of dead relatives. It is said that when the dying call out the names of deceased loved ones, they can see the spirits of those particular people waiting at the foot of the deathbed. Filipino Catholic and Aglipayan veneration of the dead finds its greatest expression in the Philippines is the Hallowmas season between 31 October and 2 November, variously called ''Undás'' (based on the word for " hefirst", the
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Cana ...
''andas'' or possibly ''honra''), ''Todos los Santos'' (literally " All Saints"), and sometimes ''Áraw ng mga Patáy'' (lit. "Day of the Dead"), which refers to the following solemnity of
All Souls' Day All Souls' Day, also called ''The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed'', is a day of prayer and remembrance for the faithful departed, observed by certain Christian denominations on 2 November. Through prayer, intercessions, alms and ...
. Filipinos traditionally observe this day by visiting the family dead, cleaning and repairing their tombs. Common offerings are prayers, flowers, candles, and even food, while many also spend the remainder of the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the graveyard, playing games and music or singing.
Chinese Filipinos Chinese Filipinos; tl, Tsinoy, / Tsinong Pilipino, ; Philippine Hokkien Philippine Hokkien is a dialect of the Hokkien language of the Southern Min branch, primarily spoken Vernacular, vernacularly by Chinese Filipinos in the Philippin ...
, meanwhile, have the most apparent and distinct customs related to ancestor veneration, carried over from traditional Chinese religion and most often melded with their current Catholic faith. Many still burn incense and kim at family tombs and before photos at home, while they incorporate Chinese practises into Masses held during the All Souls' Day period.


Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka, making offerings to one's ancestors is conducted on the sixth day after death as a part of traditional Sri Lankan funeral rites.


Thailand

In rural northern
Thailand Thailand ( ), historically known as Siam () and officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia, located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , with a population of almost 70 mi ...
, a religious ceremony honoring ancestral spirits known as ''Faun Phii'' ( th, ฟ้อนผี, lit. "spirit dance" or "ghost dance") takes place. It includes offerings for ancestors with spirit mediums sword fighting, spirit-possessed dancing, and spirit mediums
cock fighting A cockfight is a blood sport, held in a ring called a cockpit. The history of raising fowl for fighting goes back 6,000 years. The first documented use of the ''word'' gamecock, denoting use of the cock (bird), cock as to a "game", a sport, pas ...
in a spiritual cockfight.


Vietnam

Ancestor veneration is one of the most unifying aspects of
Vietnamese culture The culture of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Văn hoá Việt Nam) is highly multicultural. The early culture in Vietnam started with the Bronze Age Dong Son culture, Đông Sơn culture considered to be one of its most important progenitors for its Anc ...
, as practically all Vietnamese, regardless of religious affiliation (
Buddhist Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on teachings attributed to the Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha, was a ...
,
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics worldwide . It is among the world's oldest and largest international institutions, and has played a ...
or animist) have an ancestor altar in their home or business. In Vietnam, traditionally people did not celebrate birthdays (before Western influence), but the
death anniversary A death anniversary (or deathday) is the anniversary An anniversary is the date on which an event took place or an institution Institutions are humanly devised structures of rules and norms that shape and constrain individual behavi ...
of one's loved one was always an important occasion. Besides an essential gathering of family members for a banquet in memory of the deceased, incense sticks are burned along with hell notes, and great platters of food are made as offerings on the ancestor altar, which usually has pictures or plaques with the names of the deceased. In the case of missing persons, believed to be dead by their family, a Wind tomb is made. These offerings and practices are done frequently during important traditional or religious celebrations, the starting of a new business, or even when a family member needs guidance or counsel and is a hallmark of the emphasis Vietnamese culture places on filial duty. A significant distinguishing feature of Vietnamese ancestor veneration is that women have traditionally been allowed to participate and co-officiate ancestral rites, unlike in Chinese Confucian doctrine, which allows only male descendants to perform such rites.


European cultures

In Catholic countries in Europe (continued later with the Anglican Church in England), November 1 (
All Saints' Day All Saints' Day, also known as All Hallows' Day, the Feast of All Saints, the Feast of All Hallows, the Solemnity of All Saints, and Hallowmas, is a Christianity, Christian solemnity celebrated in honour of all the saints of the church, whether ...
), became known and is still known as the day to specifically venerate those who have died, and who have been deemed official saints by the Church. November 2, ( All Souls Day), or "The Day of the Dead", is the day when all of the faithful dead are remembered. On that day, families go to cemeteries to light candles for their dead relatives, leave them flowers, and often to picnic. The evening before All Saints'—"All Hallows Eve" or "Hallowe'en"—is unofficially the Catholic day to remember the realities of Hell, to mourn the souls lost to evil, and to remember ways to avoid Hell . It is commonly celebrated in the United States and parts of the United Kingdom in a spirit of light-hearted horror and fear, which is marked by the recounting of ghost stories,
bonfire A bonfire is a large and controlled outdoor fire, used either for informal disposal of burnable waste material or as part of a celebration. Etymology The earliest recorded uses of the word date back to the late 15th century, with the Cath ...
s, wearing
costumes Costume is the distinctive style of dress or cosmetic of an individual or group that reflects class, gender, profession, ethnicity, nationality, activity or epoch. In short costume is a cultural visual of the people. The term also was tradition ...
, carving jack-o'-lanterns, and "
trick-or-treating Trick-or-treating is a traditional Halloween custom for children and adults in some countries. During the evening of Halloween, on October 31, people in Halloween costume, costumes travel from house to house, asking for treats with the phrase "t ...
" (going door to door and begging for candy).


Brythonic Celtic cultures

In
Cornwall Cornwall (; kw, Kernow ) is a Historic counties of England, historic county and Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county in South West England. It is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, and is the homeland of the Cornish people ...
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
, the autumn ancestor festivals occur around November 1. In Cornwall the festival is known as '' Kalan Gwav'', and in Wales as ''
Calan Gaeaf ''Calan Gaeaf'' is the name of the first day of winter in Wales, observed on 1 November.Davies (2008), pg 107. The night before is ''Nos Galan Gaeaf'' or ''Noson Galan Gaeaf'', an ''Ysbrydnos'' ("spirit night"Jones (2020), pg 161.) when spirits ...
.''Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. . Modern-day
Halloween Halloween or Hallowe'en (less commonly known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve) is a celebration observed in many countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Saints' Day. It begins the observa ...
is derived from these festivals.


Gaelic Celtic cultures

During ''
Samhain Samhain ( , , , ; gv, Sauin ) is a Gaels, Gaelic festival on 1 NovemberÓ hÓgáin, Dáithí. ''Myth Legend and Romance: An Encyclopaedia of the Irish Folk Tradition''. Prentice Hall Press, 1991. p. 402. Quote: "The basic Irish division of th ...
'', November 1 in Ireland and Scotland, the dead are thought to return to the world of the living, and offerings of
food Food is any substance consumed by an organism for nutritional support. Food is usually of plant, animal, or fungal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals. The substanc ...
and
light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation that can be visual perception, perceived by the human eye. Visible light is usually defined as having wavelengths in the range of 400–700 nanometres (nm), corresponding to frequency, fr ...
are left for them.McNeill, F. Marian (1961, 1990) ''The Silver Bough'', Vol. 3. William MacLellan, Glasgow pp.11-46 On the festival day, ancient people would extinguish the hearth fires in their homes, participate in a community bonfire festival, and then carry a flame home from the communal fire and use it to light their home fires anew.O'Driscoll, Robert (ed.) (1981) ''The Celtic Consciousness'' New York, Braziller pp. 197–216: Ross, Anne "Material Culture, Myth and Folk Memory" (on modern survivals); pp. 217–242: Danaher, Kevin "Irish Folk Tradition and the Celtic Calendar" (on specific customs and rituals) This custom has continued to some extent into modern times, in both the
Celtic nations The Celtic nations are a cultural area and collection of geographical regions in Northwestern Europe where the Celtic languages and cultural traits have survived. The term ''nation'' is used in its original sense to mean a people who shar ...
and the
diaspora A diaspora ( ) is a population that is scattered across regions which are separate from its geographic place of origin. Historically, the word was used first in reference to the dispersion of Greek diaspora, Greeks in the Hellenic world, and ...
. Lights in the window to guide the dead home are left burning all night. On the
Isle of Man ) , anthem = "O Land of Our Birth" , image = Isle of Man by Sentinel-2.jpg , image_map = Europe-Isle_of_Man.svg , mapsize = , map_alt = Location of the Isle of Man in Europe , map_caption = Location of the Isle of Man (green) in Europe ...
the festival is known as "old Sauin" or ''
Hop-tu-Naa Hop-tu-Naa ( ; gv, Oie Houney; ga, Oíche Shamhna ) is a Celt The Celts (, see Names of the Celts#Pronunciation, pronunciation for different usages) or Celtic peoples () are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millen ...
''.Moore, A.W. (ed) ''Manx Ballads & Music'' (1896) G & R Johnson, Douglas.


North America

In the United States and Canada, flowers, wreaths, grave decorations and sometimes candles, food, small pebbles, or items the dead valued in life are put on graves year-round as a way to honor the dead. These traditions originate in the diverse cultural backgrounds of the current populations of both countries. In the United States, many people honor deceased loved ones who were in the military on
Memorial Day Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) is a federal holidays in the United States, federal holiday in the United States for mourning the U.S. military personnel who have fought and died while serving in the United States armed for ...
. Days with religious and spiritual significance like
Easter Easter,Traditional names for the feast in English are "Easter Day", as in the ''Book of Common Prayer''; "Easter Sunday", used by James Ussher''The Whole Works of the Most Rev. James Ussher, Volume 4'') and Samuel Pepys''The Diary of Samuel ...
,
Christmas Christmas is an annual festival commemorating Nativity of Jesus, the birth of Jesus, Jesus Christ, observed primarily on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people Observance of Christmas by country, around t ...
,
Candlemas Candlemas (also spelled Candlemass), also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Feast of the Holy Encounter, is a Christian holiday commemorating the presentati ...
, and
All Souls' Day All Souls' Day, also called ''The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed'', is a day of prayer and remembrance for the faithful departed, observed by certain Christian denominations on 2 November. Through prayer, intercessions, alms and ...
,
Day of the Dead The Day of the Dead ( es, Día de Muertos or ''Día de los Muertos'') is a holiday traditionally celebrated on November 1 and 2, though other days, such as October 31 or November 6, may be included depending on the locality. It is widely obser ...
, or
Samhain Samhain ( , , , ; gv, Sauin ) is a Gaels, Gaelic festival on 1 NovemberÓ hÓgáin, Dáithí. ''Myth Legend and Romance: An Encyclopaedia of the Irish Folk Tradition''. Prentice Hall Press, 1991. p. 402. Quote: "The basic Irish division of th ...
are also times when relatives and friends of the deceased may gather at the graves of their loved ones. In the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptized Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . It is am ...
, one's local parish church often offers prayers for the dead on their death anniversary or All Souls' Day. In the United States,
Memorial Day Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) is a federal holidays in the United States, federal holiday in the United States for mourning the U.S. military personnel who have fought and died while serving in the United States armed for ...
is a Federal holiday for remembering the deceased men and women who served in the nation's military, particularly those who died in war or during active service. In the 147
National Cemeteries The following is a partial list of prominent National Cemeteries: Africa Algeria * El Alia Cemetery, Algiers Algiers ( ; ar, الجزائر, al-Jazāʾir; ber, Dzayer, script=Latn; french: Alger, ) is the capital city, capital and lar ...
, like Arlington and Gettysburg, it is common for volunteers to place small American flags at each grave. Memorial Day is traditionally observed on the last Monday in May, allotting for a 3-day weekend in which many memorial services and parades take place not only across the country, but in 26 American cemeteries on foreign soil (in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Panama, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, and Tunisia). It is also common practice among veterans to memorialize fallen service members on the dates of their death. This practice is also common in other countries when remembering Americans who died in battles to liberate their towns in the
World Wars A world war is an international conflict which involves all or most of the world's major powers. Conventionally, the term is reserved for two major international conflicts that occurred during the first half of the 20th century, World War I, Worl ...
. One example of this is on 16 August (1944) Colonel Griffith, died of wounds from enemy action sustained in Lèves, the same day he is credited with saving
Chartres Cathedral Chartres Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres (french: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres), is a Roman Catholic church architecture, church in Chartres, France, about southwest of Paris, and is the seat of the List of b ...
from destruction. In Judaism, when a grave site is visited, a small pebble is placed on the headstone. While there is no clear answer as to why, this custom of leaving pebbles may date back to biblical days when individuals were buried under piles of stones. Today, they are left as tokens that people have been there to visit and to remember. Americans of various religions and cultures may build a shrine in their home dedicated to loved ones who have died, with pictures of their ancestors, flowers and mementos. Increasingly, many roadside shrines may be seen for deceased relatives who died in car accidents or were killed on that spot, sometimes financed by the state or province as these markers serve as potent reminders to drive cautiously in hazardous areas. The
Vietnam Veterans Memorial The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a List of national memorials of the United States, U.S. national memorial in Washington D.C., Washington, D.C., honoring service members of the Military of the United States, U.S. armed forces who served in the V ...
in Washington, D.C., is particularly known for the leaving of offerings to the deceased; items left are collected by the
National Park Service The National Park Service (NPS) is an List of federal agencies in the United States, agency of the Federal government of the United States, United States federal government within the United States Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of ...
and archived. Members of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a Nontrinitarianism, nontrinitarian Christianity, Christian church that considers itself to be the Restorationism, restoration of the ...
perform posthumous baptisms and other rituals for their dead ancestors, along with those of other families. Native Americans were not heavily concerned with the veneration of the dead, though they were known to bury the dead with clothes and tools as well as occasionally leave food and drink at the gravesite; Pueblo Indians supported a cult of the dead which worshipped or petitioned the dead through ritualistic dances.


Islam

Islam has a complex and mixed view on the idea of grave shrines and ancestor worship. The graves of many early Islamic figures are holy sites for Muslims, including Ali, and a
cemetery A cemetery, burial ground, gravesite or graveyard is a place where the remains of dead people are burial, buried or otherwise interred. The word ''cemetery'' (from Greek language, Greek , "sleeping place") implies that the land is specifical ...
with many companions and early caliphs. Many other mausoleums are major architectural, political, and cultural sites, including the National Mausoleum in Pakistan and the
Taj Mahal The Taj Mahal (; ) is an Islamic architecture, Islamic ivory-white marble mausoleum on the right bank of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1631 by the Mughal Empire, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan () to house ...
in India. However, the religious movement of
Wahhabism Wahhabism ( ar, ٱلْوَهَّابِيَةُ, translit=al-Wahhābiyyah) is a Sunni Islamic Islamic revival, revivalist and Islamic fundamentalism, fundamentalist movement associated with the reformist doctrines of the 18th-century Arabians, ...
disputes the concept of saint veneration. Followers of this movement have destroyed many gravesite shrines, including in
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is a country in Western Asia. It covers the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and has a land area of about , making it the List of Asian countries by area, fifth-largest country in Asia ...
and in territory controlled by the
Islamic State An Islamic state is a State (polity), state that has a form of government based on sharia, Islamic law (sharia). As a term, it has been used to describe various historical Polity, polities and theories of governance in the Islamic world. As a t ...
. Iman Ahmad, Al-Hakim, and others narrated about
Marwan Ibn al-Hakam Marwan ibn al-Hakam ibn Abi al-As ibn Umayya ( ar, links=no, مروان بن الحكم بن أبي العاص بن أمية, Marwān ibn al-Ḥakam ibn Abī al-ʿĀṣ ibn Umayya), commonly known as MarwanI (623 or 626April/May 685), was the fo ...
–an unjust ruler–that he once passed by the grave of the Prophet and saw a man with his cheek on the grave of the Prophet. Marwan Ibn al-Hakam asked: “Do you know what you are doing?” Nearing the grave, Marwan Ibn al-Hakam realized it was
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari Abu Ayyub al-Ansari ( ar, أبو أيوب الأنصاري, Abū Ayyūb al-Anṣārī, tr, Ebu Eyyûb el-Ensarî, died c. 674) — born Khalid ibn Zayd ibn Kulayb ibn Tha'laba ( ar, خالد ابن زيد ابن كُليب ابن ثعلبه, Kh ...
yy, one of the greatest companions of the Prophet. Abu Ayyub al-Ansariyy replied, “Yes, I know what I am doing. I came here for the Messenger of Allah–not for the stone.” By this he meant he was seeking the blessings from the presence of the Prophet, not for the stone covering his grave. Abu Ayyub al-Ansariyy continued his response with what he heard the Messenger of Allah say: “Do not cry over the Religion of Islam if the rulers are ruling correctly. Rather, cry over this Religion if the rulers are ruling incorrectly.” By his response, Abu Ayyub was telling Marwan Ibn al-Hakam: “You are not one of those rulers who are correctly ruling by the rules of Islam." Some followers of Islam are at odds with the concept of saint veneration, but this practice is retained in Turkey, particularly through Alevi Muslims.


Ancient cultures

Ancestor worship was a prominent feature of many historical societies.


Ancient Egypt

Although some historians claim that ancient Egyptian society was a "death cult" because of its elaborate tombs and mummification rituals, it was the opposite. The philosophy that "this world is but a vale of tears" and that to die and be with God is a better existence than an earthly one was relatively unknown among the ancient Egyptians. This was not to say that they were unacquainted with the harshness of life; rather, their ethos included a sense of continuity between this life and the next. The Egyptian people loved the culture, customs and religion of their daily lives so much that they wanted to continue them in the next—although some might hope for a better station in the Beautiful West (Egyptian afterlife).
Tomb A tomb ( grc-gre, τύμβος ''tumbos'') is a :wikt:repository, repository for the remains of the dead. It is generally any structurally enclosed interment space or burial chamber, of varying sizes. Placing a corpse into a tomb can be ...
s were housing in the Hereafter and so they were carefully constructed and decorated, just as homes for the living were. Mummification was a way to preserve the corpse so the '' ka'' (soul) of the deceased could return to receive offerings of the things s/he enjoyed while alive. If mummification was not affordable, a "ka-statue" in the likeness of the deceased was carved for this purpose. The Blessed Dead were collectively called the ''
akh The ancient Egyptians believed that a soul In many religious and philosophical traditions, there is a belief that a soul is "the immaterial aspect or essence of a human being". Etymology The Modern English noun '':wikt:soul, soul'' is deri ...
u'', or "shining ones" (singular: ''akh''). They were described as "shining as gold in the belly of Nut" (Gr. Nuit) and were indeed depicted as golden stars on the roofs of many tombs and temples. The process by which a ''ka'' became an ''akh'' was not automatic upon death; it involved a 70-day journey through the ''
duat The Duat ( egy, wikt:dwꜣt#Egyptian, dwꜣt, Egyptological pronunciation "do-aht", cop, ⲧⲏ, also appearing as ''Tuat'', ''Tuaut'' or ''Akert'', ''Amenthes'', ''Amenti'', or ''Neter-khertet'') is the underworld, realm of the dead in ancient ...
'', or Otherworld, which led to
judgment Judgement (or US spelling judgment) is also known as ''adjudication Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbitration, arbiter or judge reviews evidence (law), evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposi ...
before Wesir (Gr.
Osiris Osiris (, from Egyptian ''wsjr'', cop, ⲟⲩⲥⲓⲣⲉ , ; Phoenician language, Phoenician: 𐤀𐤎𐤓, romanized: ʾsr) is the ancient Egyptian deities, god of fertility, agriculture, the Egyptian afterlife, afterlife, the dead, resurr ...
), Lord of the Dead where the ''ka’''s heart would be weighed on a scale against the Feather of Ma’at (representing Truth). However, if the ''ka'' was not properly prepared, this journey could be fraught with dangerous pitfalls and strange demons; hence some of the earliest religious texts discovered, such as the Papyrus of Ani (commonly known as The Book of the Dead) and the
Pyramid Texts The Pyramid Texts are the oldest ancient Egyptian funerary texts, dating to the late Old Kingdom of Egypt, Old Kingdom. They are the earliest known corpus of ancient Egyptian religious texts. Written in Old Egyptian, the pyramid texts were carved ...
were actually written as guides to help the deceased successfully navigate the ''duat''. If the heart was in balance with the Feather of Ma'at, the ''ka'' passed judgment and was granted access to the Beautiful West as an ''akh'' who was ''ma’a heru'' ("true of voice") to dwell among the gods and other ''akhu''. At this point only was the ''ka'' deemed worthy to be venerated by the living through rites and offerings. Those who became lost in the ''duat'' or deliberately tried to avoid judgment became the unfortunate (and sometimes dangerous) ''mutu'', the Restless Dead. For the few whose truly evil hearts outweighed the Feather, the goddess
Ammit Ammit (; egy, wikt:ꜥm-mwt, ꜥm-mwt, "devourer of the dead";Erman, Adolf; Grapow, Hermann (1926-1961) ''Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache'', Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, volume 1, page 184.9 also rendered Ammut or Ahemait) was a goddess in anc ...
waited patiently behind Wesir's judgment seat to consume them. She was a composite creature resembling three of the deadliest animals in Egypt: the crocodile, the hippopotamus and the lion. Being fed to Ammit was to be consigned to the Eternal Void, to be "unmade" as a ''ka''. Besides being eaten by Ammit, the worst fate a ''ka'' could suffer after physical death was to be forgotten. For this reason, ancestor veneration in
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...
was an important rite of remembrance in order to keep the ''ka'' "alive" in this life as well as in the next. Royals, nobles and the wealthy made contracts with their local
priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deity, deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in p ...
s to perform prayers and give offerings at their tombs. In return, the priests were allowed to keep a portion of the offerings as payment for services rendered. Some tomb inscriptions even invited passers-by to speak aloud the names of the deceased within (which also helped to perpetuate their memory), and to offer water, prayers or other things if they so desired. In the private homes of the less wealthy, niches were carved into the walls for the purpose of housing images of familial ''akhu'' and to serve as altars of veneration. Many of these same religious beliefs and ancestor veneration practices are still carried on today in the religion of Kemetic Orthodoxy.


Ancient Rome

The Romans, like many Mediterranean societies, regarded the bodies of the dead as polluting. During Rome's Classical period, the body was most often cremated, and the ashes placed in a tomb outside the city walls. Much of the month of February was devoted to purifications, propitiation, and veneration of the dead, especially at the nine-day
festival A festival is an event ordinarily celebrated by a community and centering on some characteristic aspect or aspects of that community and its religion Religion is usually defined as a social- cultural system of designated behaviors and p ...
of the
Parentalia In ancient Rome, the Parentalia () or ''dies parentales'' (, "ancestral days") was a nine-day Roman festival, festival held in honor of family ancestors, beginning on 13 February. Although the Parentalia was a holiday on the Roman calendar, Roman ...
during which a family honored its ancestors. The family visited the cemetery and shared cake and wine, both in the form of offerings to the dead and as a meal among themselves. The Parentalia drew to a close on February 21 with the more somber
Feralia Ferālia was an ancient Roman public festivalGeorges Dumézil, Dumézil, Georges. ''Archaic Roman Religion''. pg 366. celebrating the Manes (Roman spirits of the dead, particularly the souls of deceased individuals) which fell on 21 February a ...
, a public festival of sacrifices and offerings to the
Manes In Religion in ancient Rome, ancient Roman religion, the ''Manes'' (, , ) or ''Di Manes'' are chthonic deities sometimes thought to represent souls of deceased loved ones. They were associated with the ''Lares'', ''Lemures,'' ''Genius (mythology) ...
, the potentially malevolent spirits of the dead who required propitiation. One of the most common inscriptional phrases on Latin epitaphs is ''Dis Manibus'', abbreviated ''D.M,'' "for the Manes gods", which appears even on some Christian tombstones. The
Caristia In ancient Rome, the Caristia, also known as the Cara Cognatio, was an official but privately observed holiday on February 22, that celebrated love of family with banqueting and gifts. Families gathered to dine together and offer food and incense ...
on February 22 was a celebration of the family line as it continued into the present. A noble Roman family displayed ancestral images ('' imagines'') in the tablinium of their home ''(
domus In Ancient Rome In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. It encompasses the Roma ...
)''. Some sources indicate these
portraits A portrait is a painting Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface (called the "matrix" or "support"). The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush, but other implements, suc ...
were busts, while others suggest that funeral masks were also displayed. The masks, probably modeled of wax from the face of the deceased, were part of the funeral procession when an elite Roman died. Professional mourners wore the masks and regalia of the dead person's ancestors as the body was carried from the home, through the streets, and to its final resting place.R.G. Lewis, "Imperial Autobiography, Augustus to Hadrian," ''Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt'' II.34.1 (1993), p. 658.


See also

*
Anito ''Anito'', also spelled ''anitu'', refers to ancestor spirits, nature spirits, and deities in the indigenous Philippine folk religions from the History of the Philippines (900–1521), precolonial age to the present, although the term itse ...
* Ásatrú *
Chinese ancestral worship Chinese ancestor veneration, also called Chinese ancestor worship, is an aspect of the Chinese folk religion, Chinese traditional religion which revolves around the ritual celebration of the deification, deified ancestors and tutelary deities ...
* Chinese ancestral hall &
Ancestral tablet A spirit tablet, memorial tablet, or ancestral tablet, is a placard used to designate the seat of a deity or past ancestor as well as to enclose it. The name of the deity or past ancestor is usually inscribed onto the tablet. With origins in Chi ...
*
Chinese folk religion Chinese folk religion, also known as Chinese popular religion comprehends a range of traditional religious practices of Han Chinese, including the Chinese diaspora. Vivienne Wee described it as "an empty bowl, which can variously be filled ...
* Chinese rites controversy *
Communion of saints The communion of saints (), when referred to persons, is the spiritual union of the members of the Christian Church In ecclesiology, the Christian Church is what different Christian denominations conceive of as being the true body of Christi ...
*
Death anniversary A death anniversary (or deathday) is the anniversary An anniversary is the date on which an event took place or an institution Institutions are humanly devised structures of rules and norms that shape and constrain individual behavi ...
*
Funerary art Funerary art is any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the death, dead. The term encompasses a wide variety of forms, including cenotaphs ("empty tombs"), tomb-like monuments which do not contain human remains, a ...
*
Funerary cult A funerary cult is a body of anthropology of religion, religious teaching and practice centered on the veneration of the dead, in which the living are thought to be able to confer benefits on the dead in the afterlife or to appease their otherwise ...
* Haus Tambaran *
Ifá Ifá is a Yoruba religion and system of divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized pro ...
* Molieben *
Bon Festival or just is fusion of the ancient Japanese belief in ancestral spirits and a Japanese Buddhist Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religion or philosophical tradition based on teachings at ...
*
Qingming Festival The Qingming festival or Ching Ming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English (sometimes also called Chinese Memorial Day or Ancestors' Day), is a List of observances set by the Chinese calendar, traditional Chinese festival observ ...
*
Shamanism Shamanism is a religious practice that involves a practitioner (shaman) interacting with what they believe to be a Spirit world (Spiritualism), spirit world through Altered state of consciousness, altered states of consciousness, such as tranc ...
* Transfer of merit * Ullambana * Zhong Yuan Festival


References


External links


Smithsonian: Ancestor Worship Today
{{DEFAULTSORT:Veneration Of The Dead Anthropology Death customs Chinese folk religion Anthropology of religion Filial piety Religious Confucianism Taoist practices Shinto Buddhist belief and doctrine