Customs and Protocols on Death, Dying and Funerals
The Catholic funeral rite is called the Order of Christian Funerals. begins during which friends and relatives can visit the family and offer their sympathies. For those who desire a basic understanding of the tenets of Christian faith, this paper offers a meaning Messiah or Anointed One—according to relationship of Jesus to God, and that these debates .. three persons of the Trinity to have various names. The most .. mysteriously become the body and blood of Christ. Kali's name derives from the Sanskrit meaning 'she who is black' or 'she The goddess is particularly worshipped in eastern and southern hence one of her names is Kaushika (the Sheath), whilst Parvati is left as Gauri (the Fair One). birth, there is the story of the terrible demon Raktabija (Blood-seed).
Sri Lanka is governed by a democratically elected president and a member parliament. The president serves for a term of six years and has the power to dismiss the parliament, out of which the president selects cabinet members, a prime minister, and a chief justice.
Although regular elections at all levels of government have been held since independence, there are increasing allegations of tampering and violence.
The current leadership is considering a new constitution in which greater powers would be reserved for the provincial governments, a move calculated to address the ethnic conflicts and end the nation's civil war.
Leadership and Political Officials. Although a spectrum of political parties campaign within Sri Lanka, political leadership is almost exclusively drawn from the traditional, propertied elite. Family lineage and caste affiliation figure prominently in selection of candidates at all levels. Since independence, only two parties have drawn the majority of their leadership from the lower classes and challenged the control of the elite: Since political leaders distribute state-controlled benefits and resources, such as access to employment, quality schools, and even passports, their constituents work to stay in their good graces.
These elected leaders, who typically distribute resources preferentially to their supporters, make an effort to be seen as benefactors and are often more personally accessible than many bureaucrats.
Social Problems and Control. Although crime rates are rising, Sri Lanka's citizens are generally respectful of both formal and informal laws, as well as of each other.
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Throughout the nation's history, however, there have been periodic explosions of violence and lawlessness. Since the s, there have been massive riots, bombings, and insurrections that have effectively challenged the authority of the state and resulted in massive bloodletting.
Large portions of the island are not under the control of the state but are in the hands of the LTTE rebels. In response to these challenges, the government has periodically declared states of "emergency rule" that extend its constitutional authority.
The police, the military, and the judiciary system are in place to maintain government control. Imprisonment is the main legal sanction for those who are convicted of violations of the law. The death penalty, suspended for many years, is being considered for re-introduction in response to the perceived rise in crime and violence.
Informal sanctions also provide strong deterrents against socially unacceptable behavior. Rumor and gossip are particularly feared, whether these take the form of village talk, anonymous petitions to the newspapers, or posters mounted in public spaces. Acceptance in the family and other important social groups to which one belongs and how one's behavior reflects on the reputation of these groups are among the most powerful motivators of social compliance. The threat of sorcery or divine retribution on an injured party's behalf, as well as more earthly threats of violence and revenge, also act to ensure good behavior.
There are three branches of the all-volunteer national military: Since independence, Sri Lanka's military, once largely ceremonial, has been called on to counter civil violence and terrorist activities, as well as provide more peaceable services, such as coastal supervision and surveying. Sincethey have been fighting a full-scale civil war against the LTTE army which is reportedly well-trained and internationally funded. Between anddefense spending made up the largest portion of the national budget, comprising over 20 percent of annual expenditures.
A man operates a Heidelburg printing press at a printer shop in Sri Lanka. With free and universal education and health care, subsidized transportation, and a wide range of public sector programs to assist the poor, the quality of life is high in comparison with other developing countries.
Since the change in economic policies of which emphasize private sector growth, however, the quality and availability of these government services have been eroding and have been increasingly replaced by private resources accessed by the middle and elite classes.
Besides the difficulty posed by reductions in state funding, the civil war has created additional challenges to the welfare system as up to 1. Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations Sinceforeign-supported nongovernmental organizations have proliferated, providing welfare services and promoting social agendas such as human rights, fair elections, conflict resolution, and peace initiatives.
Other civil organizations that are more locally led and membership-based, such as trade unions and cooperatives, are largely dependant on or part of the political sector of Sri Lankan society. Religious organizations are the primary exception to this, and are independent from political society, which tends to regard them with fear and respect.
Another notable exception is the Sarvodaya Movement which has been active sincemobilizing volunteer labor for community service. In Sri Lanka, there is a strong tradition of both men and women working, with men focusing more on income opportunities and women focusing on the household. Currently, women's participation in the paid labor force is significant, although not evenly distributed, concentrated in professions such as nursing, teaching, tea picking, and garment construction.
In manufacture and agricultural work, men are typically assigned tasks considered more physically demanding, while women are assigned the more repetitive, detail-oriented work at which they are thought to be better than men.
Opportunity for foreign employment for women, while relatively available and well-paying, is restricted to domestic work, whereas opportunities for men are more varied, ranging from manual labor to engineering. Within the home, regardless of their engagement in paid labor, women and girls do all food preparation and most other domestic work.
Although most schools are segregated by gender, education has always been important for both boys and girls in Sri Lanka. The literacy rates for men and women are similarly high; the last census in found that 87 percent of females over the age of ten years were literate, compared to 91 percent of males.
Leadership roles in Sri Lanka are largely held by men, with some important exceptions. Sri Lanka elected the world's first female prime minister inSirimavo Bandaranaike, whose daughter is the current president of the nation. While this is not indicative of the political power of women in general, it is true that Sri Lankan women have held voting rights since they were instituted in and have long held certain property rights.
The large majority of religious leaders and officiants are also male, while women tend to be overrepresented among their followers.
The Relative Status of Women and Men. It is a widely held position among social scientists as well as lay people that the status of women is relatively high in Sri Lanka, especially in comparison to other South Asian nations. There has never been the practice of child marriage or the burning of widows in Sri Lanka. Even though most groups on the island prefer for new brides to move into their husbands' homes, women traditionally retain strong ties with their own natal families.
Additionally, although it is expected among most groups for the bride's family to give the groom a dowry, in practice this property commonly remains in the possession of the wife until she passes it on, typically to her daughters. Despite these traditional practices and the full rights of citizenship that women in Sri Lanka enjoy today, women consistently defer to men across all domains of life, including the workplace and the home.
Women also bear the greater weight of social expectations and sanctions for noncompliance. In addition, sexual harassment and assault, while seldom reported to the authorities, are common experiences. Marriage, Family, and Kinship Marriage. In all ethnic groups, marriages are traditionally arranged by the families of the couple.
Regardless of who initiates the marriage, the bride and groom are expected to be of the same socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and, for Buddhists and Hindus, caste status, although the groom is expected to be slightly older, taller, and educationally and professionally more qualified than the bride.
Additionally, there is a preference among Tamil and Sinhala groups for cross-cousin marriage, which is marriage with the child of one's father's sister or one's mother's brother.
Among Muslims, the preferred match is between parallel cousins, the children of two brothers. It is also considered best if the couple are of similar ages.
The age at which people marry is on the rise, especially for women. According to the census, over a quarter of those over twenty have never been married. Divorce, while increasingly common, still occurs in less than 1 percent of marriages. Remarriage following divorce or the death of a spouse is possible for both men and women, although it is uncommon for previously married women to marry never-married men.
Ideally, a husband and wife live in their own household with their unmarried children, even if that household is actually a small section of an extended family home. In Sri Lanka, individual households are identified by cooking practices, so that, even within a larger house, a wife will cook for her husband and children independently from others who may live within the structure, perhaps sharing the same kitchen.
While women may have a great deal of power within a family, ultimate authority belongs to the oldest male member of a household, whether that is the father, husband, brother, or son. Sri Lankans express a preference that their first child be a girl, whom they believe will help care for and be a disciplining influence on younger siblings. While overall there is a preference for sons, this is not as strong as in other South Asian countries. The majority of Sri Lankan families practice bilateral inheritance, giving a portion of the family possessions to all children in the family.
In practice, fixed property such as land and the family home go to sons and mobile property such as cash and jewelry go to daughters, usually in the form of her dowry. In Sri Lanka, the notion of ancestral place and the kin group associated with it is very important, even as people move to other areas because of employment opportunities or displacement.
This hereditary home is the site of life-cycle A woman picking tea at a plantation in Sri Lanka. Approximately one-quarter of the workforce is employed in the agricultural sector. It is most common for this kin group to belong to the father's family, as there is a preference for women to move to the homes of their husband, raising their children among his relatives.
It also happens, however, that husbands join wives' families instead, particularly among the matrilineal people of the island's east. In Sri Lanka, young children are highly adored, fondled, and indulged by everyone, both male and female. Infants are traditionally kept with their mothers or female relatives. Babies are carried until they can walk and sleep with mothers until they are school-aged, at which time they are encouraged to move into a bed with their siblings.
Nearly all mothers breast-feed their children, commonly through the first year. Child Rearing and Education. Throughout childhood, important rituals are conducted around culturally significant milestones, such as the first feeding of solid food and the introduction of the letters of the alphabet. The coming of age ritual following a girl's first menstruation is an important marker of her entrance into the adult world, although there is no such similar rite of passage for boys.
As children grow, they are expected to develop a sense of lajjawa, a feeling that combines shyness, shame, modesty, and fear. It is cultivated early in childhood and used to teach self-control, beginning with bowel-control training, which starts at one year, then with weaning and nudity, and later with school performance. Although mothers perform most of the child rearing, they are more responsible for their daughters' discipline and tend to be more indulgent with their sons.
Fathers tend to indulge all of their children under five, at which point they take on a stricter disciplinary role, particularly with their sons whom they are responsible for controlling. Corporal punishment is quite common, especially from older males to boys. In Sri Lanka, education has always been highly valued and encouraged. School attendance is compulsory between the ages of six and fourteen, although children often attend preschool and typically continue until the completion of the secondary level.
Academic competition starts early, as parents scramble to place their children in the better primary schools, and continues with three sets of standardized exams that determine access to subsequent Stilt fishermen in the waters near Weligama, Sri Lanka.
Fish are a large part of the Sri Lankan diet. To prepare for these exams and other academic challenges, almost all children attend private tutorial sessions in addition to their regular schooling. All of Sri Lanka's universities are government sponsored and attendance is free. Admission is determined by exam, so that only 2 percent of Sri Lanka's children eventually are enrolled in the universities, although children from affluent families frequently gain admittance to foreign universities.
Of those who enter the Sri Lankan university system, the majority go into the arts, which includes humanities and social sciences, a course of study taught in the vernacular languages.
Unemployment following graduation is high for these students, reflecting a disjuncture between market needs and university education. Opportunities for postgraduate education are quite limited within the country. Protests against authorities are well established among university students at all levels.
New entrants to the university student community are routinely subjected to "ragging," a form of collective harassment by the senior students in an effort to create a sense of common identity and an anti-establishment consciousness.
Etiquette Many of the most important rules of etiquette serve to mark differences in social rank. Both Sinhala and Tamil contain a range of linguistic markers for status as well as relative social distance and intimacy. In routine social interactions, personal names are avoided in preference to nicknames, relationship terms, or other titles. Gender is also an important factor in determining appropriate conduct.
Among all but the most urbanized, women are expected to defer to men of relatively equal status and to avoid all implication of sexual impropriety by keeping themselves well covered at all times. They are also expected to refuse all alcohol and tobacco and to refrain from direct physical contact with men. Between members of the same gender and with children, however, there is a great deal of physical contact that emphasizes closeness.
At meals, women usually eat last, after they have served the men and the children of the household, although visitors are served first, regardless of gender. While the more Westernized may use silverware, food is commonly eaten with the right hand, a preference that extends to other domains as well. In public, people tend to speak in hushed tones if at all, although leaders and sellers are expected to shout.
Large emotional displays of any type are uncommon in public. Greetings are often unvocalized, with broad smiles exchanged between strangers and a friendly raised eyebrow to frequent acquaintances. When new people are involved in a conversation, the mutual acquaintance is asked questions about the stranger. Seldom does direct self-introduction occur. Unusual behavior of any kind draws unconcealed observation.
Buddhism, the religion of the majority of people in Sri Lanka, is given a place of preference in the national constitution and public life, although Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity are also practiced by significant portions of the population.
Except in the case of Christians, who are drawn from a variety of ethnic groups, these religious traditions map directly onto the three major ethnic groups: The census reported that 69 percent of the population considered themselves Buddhists, 15 percent Hindus, 8 percent Muslims, and 8 percent Christians. In practice, however, there is a degree of blending between these practices as well as an incorporation of ancient indigenous and astrological beliefs.
Sri Lankan Buddhists and Hindus, in particular, share a number of foundational beliefs and ritual practices. The moral codes of both of these religious traditions recommend moderation and restraint, Hindus stressing the discipline of one's behavior and Buddhists advocating "the middle path. While both Buddhism and Hinduism also propose that one can escape the cycle of rebirth, a goal that is highly elaborated within Buddhism, the acquisition of spiritual merit to gain a better rebirth either for one's self or one's loved ones generates much of the religious activity of the laity.
Among the participants in both of these religions, there is also a belief in a broad pantheon of gods, spirits, and demons, into which many local deities have been absorbed.
These beings may be male or female, benevolent or malevolent, moral or amoral, but they are all considered subject to the same laws of death and rebirth as other beings.
Devotees, including some Muslims and Christians, appeal to these gods to assist them with a variety of mostly worldly concerns. In Sri Lanka, each of the four major religions are served by native religious leaders, although not exclusively; the island is home to training institutions for specialists in each of its organized religions.
The largest and most active group of religious specialists are the members of the Buddhist monkhood, or Sangha, who are ordained for life to follow a path of celibacy committed to the disattachment from worldly life. As temple monks, they provide spiritual guidance to the laity, serve as role models, and act as a source of merit acquisition for those who support them.
They do not, however, traditionally play a role in secular matters or life-cycle rituals, except the death rites.
Well organized and often in control of fair amounts of property, the Sangha have considerable influence in society, both historically and today. The priests of the various gods are more independently organized.
The ethnicity of the priests depends on their clientele more than the origin of the gods they serve. Tamil Hindu priests are born into their roles, almost traditionally but not exclusively coming from the Brahman caste. Sinhala Buddhist priests, who serve many of the same gods, are drawn from the laity and are increasingly likely to be women.
Members of both the Buddhist and Hindu laity also play a variety of specialized religious roles as mediators, renunciates who withdraw from worldly pursuits, and other kinds of adepts. Rituals and Holy Places. Sri Lanka is home to many sacred sites visited by foreigners and locals alike. During this temple's annual perahera season, the Tooth Relic is paraded through the torch-lit streets, accompanied by dancers, drummers, and elephants.
While this is the island's largest perahera, or religious procession, other temples around the island host their own at different times of the year. Pilgrimage is an important religious activity for many Sri Lankans. Kataragama, the most popular and elaborate of the pilgrimage centers, is primarily dedicated to the deity, although it is visited by members of all four of the island's religions.
The summit of Sri Pada, or Adam's Peak, another important Wading in a pool of brackish water, a man pans for rubies, sapphires and other gems using a basket at one of Sri Lanka's many pit mines. A large rock at the top is believed by Buddhists to have been imprinted with the footprint of the Buddha during one of his legendary visits to Sri Lanka and by Muslims to hold the footprint made by Adam as he was cast out of paradise.
The ancient temples, especially of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, are also important pilgrimage sites. Death and the Afterlife. Death ceremonies are quite elaborate in Sri Lanka, usually conducted by the families of the deceased in conjunction with religious officiants. Bodies are first embalmed in a secular, medical process and then returned to the families for funeral rites involving the gathering of extended family and the sharing of food, followed by either burial or cremation.
Among Buddhists and Hindus the body is kept in the ancestral home for as long as a week while a variety of rituals are performed to give merit to the deceased in order to ensure a good rebirth.
A series of purification rituals are also performed to protect the family members from the pollution from the body. White is the color associated with funerals, except for monks whose death is marked with yellow.
Following a death, white banners, flags, and other decorations are put up according to the status of the deceased. Anniversaries of a death are also marked by rituals performed by family members.
Medicine and Health Care The quality of life in Sri Lanka is among the highest in the developing world based on indicators such as its average life expectancy of seventy years, a relatively low infant mortality rate, and a well-developed infrastructure that provides safe drinking water and latrines to at least two-thirds of its inhabitants, an adequate food supply, and an extensive network of health-care providers.
In Sri Lanka, several different types of health systems are available. The state's free and universal health-care system includes Western allopathic medicine as well as South Asian Ayurvedic treatments. In addition, there are a variety of private clinics offering Western and Ayurvedic services, indigenous herbal specialists, and ritual healers.
In general, people do not see these various health systems as mutually exclusive or contradictory, simultaneously accessing different systems for the same or different types of ailments. Dosha, which loosely translates as "troubles," is the central concept that integrates these various health systems. Within Ayurveda, the concept refers to the physical and emotional problems resulting from imbalances in the body humors of heat, coolness, and wind.
But the concept of Dosha is much broader in the folk system, referring to all kinds of problems including financial, academic, and social difficulties. Imbalances may result from food, spirit attack, or contact with some other extreme and may require different treatment approaches available from the different health systems.
Although there is a certain amount of popular knowledge about illness prevention, diagnosis, and treatment derived from these different systems, each is primarily administered by trained practitioners. Doctors, nurses, and other health-care workers are trained in modern Western allopathic medicine through Sri Lanka's university system as well as in foreign institutions.
Ayurvedic doctors are trained in university-affiliated colleges in Sri Lanka and India. Indigenous herbal medical training is passed through apprenticeship from father to son. Different types of healing rituals are also conducted by experts—such as exorcists, drummers and other caste-based professionals, and priests and priestess of the gods—sometimes in consultation with astrologers.
Secular Celebrations All Saturdays and Sundays are public holidays, as is the Poya Day of each month which marks the full moon. During April, the island largely shuts down for a week as its Sinhala and Tamil residents celebrate the traditional new year, the exact day of which is determined by astrologers.
Then the ashes are picked up. The priest makes sure that each brother does is with hands crossed at the wrists. The ashes are placed in a clay plate… …then carried off in a procession of male relatives, chiefly the four sons of Velu, but others also. They walk over to a nearby well, used by the farmers for water. And walk down to the water level. All four take the plate of ashes, then immerse it into the water. The other sons stand by… …then come back out of the well.
Walking back I notice two grand turkeys! The brothers sit and the pinda ceremony starts. The fourth brother takes a ball and hands it to the third one … …who hands it to the second one … …who hands it to the first one, who places it on a banana leaf plate as instructed by the priest. They are placed in rows of four. Each row is marked by a piece of sacred grass underneath.
Finally there are sixteen balls, I think representative of the sixteen days after death. Note that this ceremony may be anywhere from ten to sixteen days after death, depending on the age and caste of the deceased. Only three generations can be at Pitru Loka at one time, so when the father joins them, the great-great grandfather will reincarnate. I invited the spirits of the ancestors my grand father, great grand father, and great great grand father into new pindas, and asked them to receive the spirit of my father, which I had initiated into a separate rice ball.
Then I broke the ball that represented father, and merged it into the ancestors. The brothers all stand and offer pranams to the pindas. Then a brother, instructed by the priest, pulls out the pieces of sacred grass and tosses them to the four cardinal directions. The sixteen balls are merged together into one big plate of rice.
Then the brothers start another procession. They find a good spot and stop and lay out the rice mixture on a banana leaf plate for the crows. They offer a camphor flame to the rice. This is a big step. If the crows do not come, it is because there is some unfinished obligation or desire of the father, Velu which must then be taken up by his eldest son. This would be very bad since it would delay his departure to Pitru Loka.
Today the crows come right way, a blessing. Now the brothers have returned to the pooja area.
Many men sit and watch. I am told these are all relatives. Velu was a part of a big Tamil family. A plate of pooja items is set in front of the brothers.
And the priest makes two rods out of the sacred grass. There is a clay bowl set out with three objects in it. They are small stones, wrapped with string.என் குடும்பம் - குழந்தை தமிழ் - Learn My Family Members in Tamil for kids and children
Nearby are two clay pots with the grass rods. The pots contain ghee and a sandalwood paste mixture. There are three, for each generation — the father, grandfather and great-grandfather, of who are in Pitru Loka or will be once this ceremony is completed. These are dabbed onto the rocks, first by the brothers, then by other males present. About this time, I hear noises, and look up. There is the procession of women, coming to the ceremonial area.
Here is a short video of the procession. It is lead by Nadaswarams, loud reed-horns. Leading the women is Shakuntala, the wife of Velu. This is a very important and sad day for her. She is here with all the flowers. Other women hold and comfort her. The line of women just keeps coming. I think that there are about women here today. Shakuntala comes, followed by all the women. I have read often about death and dying in India that, due to the idea of reincarnation, the people do not grieve as much as in the West.
What I have seen previously, and see today, belies what I have read. Shakuntala first goes to where the clay plate with the three wrapped rocks are, and dabs them with ghee and sandalwood. The other women are massed behind her. She collapses to the ground, held by another women. She then stands in the center of a big circle of women. Nearby, women stack bags of clothes. They will gift these to Shakuntala and the family. None of the family can buy new clothes for the next year.
Shakuntala sits in a chair now. I am touched by the love and care shown to her by the other women. Shakuntala is wearing flowers, many bangle bracelets, and other jewelry. With the exception of chains around her neck, she will not be able to wear any of these for the rest of her life.
Niece and nephew
Today marks her transition into Indian widowhood. No longer will she be able to wear anything that would mark her as a wife. She seems emotionally drained. Men and women sit and wait. A triangular structure has been made, with woven palm leaves for the roof. There are five plates. To the left of the food plates is one more plate.
In it are three rice flour balls that have been made up by the priest three for the three generations in Pitru Loka. These are covered by leaves. A camphor flame sit in front of all the items. The sons walk pradakshina around the structure. Another procession then starts.
The sons are carrying the Navadhanyam sprouts, the bowl with the flower malas, and the plate of rice balls. There are three items representing the three generations. The procession heads towards the well. And goes down to it. They then dump each of the items into the water. First is the son with the flower-lined dish.
He swims out into the well with the dish on his head. Then dunks under water to immerse it. Next are the Navadhanyam sprouts. You can see in front of the man to the right a faint green spot where he has pushed the green plants under the water. Then a white dhoti is spread out in the water.
And the rice flour balls are put into it and mixed into the water. So the white flour is dispersed into the water. I am sure that all of these are thought to travel to and nourish the departed father and ancestors. As the last part, everybody in the close family except the wife takes a bath. After this bath they will wear new clothes and the period of intense mourning will be over, but other restrictions will continue for a year. While this is going on, the mother is getting a bath and having her flowers and jewelry removed.
All the flowers and her bracelets have already been taken off. Women remove a golden necklace. Carol is standing above the crowd, trying to get good photos. Gold nose rings are taken off. They go to remove her toe rings, put on 47 years ago when she was married. The ring has been there a long time. They start using a piece of grass to help slide it off.
The men of the family are receiving special tilaks, made of turmeric coated rice. Here is one of these yellow tilaks. They are still trying to remove the toe ring. They cannot get it off! Somehow they will do it, though. It must come off. First, family men receive curd as a blessing. They will eat it.