Activity 3- Ghanaians Death/Funeral Rituals- Katherine Phillips

All over the world there are various ways death is not only analyzed but how death is treated within each culture. Susan Orpett Long discusses this in her article about the differences and similarities between the Japanese and American ways of death and how they relate to what she refers to as  “cultural scripts”. In the article Long mentions specifically four scripts which include modern medicine, revivalism, anti- revivalist, and religion. The script I want to focus on in relation to my country is religion. According to the article religious and spiritual discourses on dying based on Japanese religious ideas take a different shape than the US.  In Japanese culture there is a big emphasis on ancestors and spiritualism unlike the US it is not yet it is focused more along the lines of Christianity which is a distinctly either heaven or hell. (Long 2004)

In my select country Ghana they treat such things as  death and funerals as a ritual.  It is not only a time to mourn but also an opportunity to celebrate the life of the dearly departed. Ghanaians revere the dead so much that funerals are the heart of Ghanaians social life. (Newton 2014) My country Ghana  is a lot like Japan than America in the aspect of religion and the belief on ancestors, and spiritualism heavily involved in the afterlife. Deaths and funerals are traditional rites that can be dated back to creation, For many cultures across the world, they form parts of the rite to passage performed to usher the dead into the spirit world or afterlife. (Ofori 2012).  When a member dies, funeral rites must be performed. The dead play an important role to the family because their role now is to guide and protect. They are now elders of the family in the spirit world. Traditionally unless the proper rites are performed beginning from birth the spirit of the dead will not be able to join the spirits of his or her ancestors and therefore can not guide and protect (ghananation.com 2010).

When a person dies in the Ghana community, the corpse is washed and then dressed according to age, sex and status. The washing, dressing, and laying in state of the deceased are the duty of the elderly women in the family. The public is not allowed to see them at this point they are sacred, putting the corpse in the coffin is only allowed to be seen by a few relatives. It is also at this time that special rites are performed to break the relationship between the deceased and immediate relations such as the now widow, and children especially. During the pre-burial mourning when the body is laid in state either at the family heads hose, the fathers house or deceased house. Then is when relatives, friends, and others come to mourn and celebrate with the family. It is a traditional custom to present gifts while the body is lying. For example the Gonja tribe give kola nuts, drinks, and money. It is believed that since the deceased is traveling through the spirit world, he/she needs money for his or her fare and other expenses.  (ghananation.com 2010)

References:

http://content.ghananation.com/articles/Death-and-Funerals.aspx (GHANANATION.COM 2010)

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/11/world/africa/on-the-road-ghana-funerals/ (NEWTON 2014)

http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=230242 (OFORI 2012)

http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us15/files/2015/05/Cultural-scripts-for-a-good-death-in-Japan-and-the-US-Long-2004.pdf (LONG 2004)

 

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