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A Comparative Analysis Of Symbolism Used In The Death Rituals Of The Rural Greeks & Balinese To My Own Experiences With Death Ritual Symbols

2176 words - 9 pages

In all areas of life there are symbols. As human beings, it is in our nature to define things, name things, and place meaning to things. At some point in time, human beings saw that order, not just of the natural world, but man made order was good for everyone. However, there are things that human beings could not put into that order. When something living and breathing is here one day and gone the next, how could they make sense of something that was once so concrete, but now so remarkably changed in form? There are things that are not things, but they are ideas. Ideas are not seen or touched, but they are just there. Love, hate, justice, purity, and so forth are things that have no certain physical form. We named them, but then came the dilemma of how to show that they exist. A symbol, then, is a concrete object from our physical and material world that is used to represent an intangible thing in the physical world. Symbols play the role of intermediaries by connecting the abstract with what can be seen and touched by our own eyes and hands. Through this physical connection, human beings can come to terms with their passing fellow man into a world that no one can describe, except to place other meanings to the objects we already know. So, let us travel half way around the world to a third world village in Bali, located in Southeast Asia. It is there that several families have pooled their money and resources to have a long awaited cremation ceremony for their deceased loved ones. Despite waiting many years already, it is important that the ground in which the bodies were originally buried not get too "hot," because not only does it mean that the body is decaying, but symbolizes the anger and decay of the waiting soul that has not been allowed to pass through the proper means. One week prior to the cremation ceremony special objects called effigies are made. They look like little dolls and are made of coins and grasses. The effigies are very important, because they represent the deceased persons since the actual bodies are no longer able to be there. Everyone sits around making them and makes sure they know which effigy is which relative. It looks like any other family gathering where people are making arts and crafts until their spiritual leader comes and the effigies are wrapped in white shrouds. The effigies are treated just as the dead body of the deceased would be treated if it were still intact for the ceremony. It seems very important that the Balinese honor their deceased loved ones' once presence in the physical world. The shrouded effigies are placed on a bed-like table and mourners file by touching and chanting at the effigies to say goodbye. Later, as offerings are being prepared, special grandparent figures are made to be in charge of the offerings. They will be carried and used throughout the ceremony almost like puppet figures that give orders and tell people what to do. An even more important moment comes when a chick is...

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