Sunday, September 13, 2009

Religious Practitioners of LISU-1

As the Lisu religion combines ancestor worship and spirit propitiation, two types of practitioners are necessary in carrying out religious functions: the 'village priest' (mu meu pha), and the shaman (ne pha).

Village priest: The elders to direct ceremonies and to be the go-between in all dealing with the village guardian spirit choose the village priest. One of his most important duties is to announce the special days in the Lisu calendar, such as the semi-monthly holy days, various ceremonies, and most important of all, the New Year festival. He directs the men in caring for the altar of the village guardian spirit, as well as all other religious affairs of the village, and is given the highest status. Any improper behavior towards him on the part of the villagers endangers everyone, for he is virtually the incarnation of the guardian spirit.

Durrenberger tells of one priest who did not change the water at the village shrine and neglected other duties. One day while he was fishing with explosives an accident destroyed one of his eyes. This was taken as a sign that the guardian spirit was angry and wanted to kill him, so the elders chose a new priest to take his place.

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