Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Akha Way : Ancestors

Ancestors: An Akha perceives himself as being the link between his ancestors and his progeny. He hopes that after his death his descendants will care for him with offerings as he has done for his ancestors. The place for the ancestral offerings is the ancestral altar. It consists either of a section of bamboo tied to a roof support close to the main housepost on the womans' section of the house, or else a small shelf built in the same place. The altar contains the first three heads of rice cut in the previous harvest. A basket containing paraphernalia used for the ancestral offerings is kept beneath the altar.

The offerings feed' the ancestors so they in turn will 'feed' or care for the family by providing abundant rice, wealth, good health, and everything else necessary for the continuation of the line. A small chicken and four other items of food and drink are included in each offering. Five small bowls containing these elements are set on an offering table and placed before the ancestral altar. The ancestors are then invited to come and partake.

The man making the offering politely turns his back so the ancestors can 'come down and eat'. Then he calls the family members to come and participate. The one officiating, usually the household head, takes a morsel of each item offered and eats it. Other members of the family are then given a morsel of each offering, which they receive with both hands held together and bring to their mouths to eat. Anyone who has ever killed another person is barred from taking part in the ceremony-indeed is not even supposed to be in the village at the time.

At the completion of the ceremony the one who has made the offering strikes a gong several times. Extra rice cakes might be placed on the mat over the fireplace and later fed to relatives and friends who come to visit during that offering period. Having eaten, they in turn pronounce a blessing on the household.

Each ancestral offering ceremony must begin on a day auspicious for the village priest. A day of the Akha twelve-day week on which any member of the priest's family was born or died is not auspicious. The most important time for ancestral offerings are New Year, rice planting, the village swing ceremony and rice harvest.

0 ความคิดเห็น:

Post a Comment