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Indigenous Religions Of South Africa Essay

1914 words - 8 pages

Rites, Rituals and Festivals

Both the San people and the Bantu speaking people had approximately four life cycle events that was usually celebrated ceremoniously, these events where seen as significant milestones and therefore a religious ceremony was required to acknowledge the event. These four life cycle events can basically be identified as birth, coming of age, marriage and death cycles. On special occasions there was also festivals, these festival were usually held annually and where concerned with rain or seasonal change.

At the birth of an infinite the naming of the child was important, the birth of a child were connected with certain properties or types of rain. Usually there were around 35 names put forward, these names was usually the names of relatives. The oldest member in the kinship had the authority to choose the name of the child. The birthing act was without much ceremony, as a woman only briefly left the tribe to give birth, and once the birthing was over she would return to the tribe. She was allowed to take other woman with her to help with the process. The life of the San was often very hard, during very difficult times, usually in a time of drought; a woman might decide to actually kill her infant immediately after birth. This was seen as a kindness, if the tribe did not have means to support another life, and it was done quickly before the mother could form an attached to the child.
Coming of age ceremonies where very important these ceremonies marked the transition of a child into adulthood for a San boy this transition was marked as his first kill during hunting.

The fist kill had to be an antelope and preferable an eland, the San greatly refereed the eland. Once the animal was caught it was skinned, and the fat from the animal’s collarbone and neck was made into a broth.

For a girl her transition into adulthood was marked by her first menstruation. She would be isolated in a hut. The women of the tribe would then do a dance around the hut. This dance was an imitation of the eland cows during mating. During the dance there would also be a man who played the part of the bull. This dance was executed with the premise of keeping the girl free from hunger and peaceful, and also to keep the girl beautiful.
As part of the marriage ceremony the man give the parents of the girl the fat from an eland’s heart. As part of the marriage ceremony the girl was also anointed with an eland’s fat.
The San didn’t have big ceremonies upon death. But just as at the time of birth where a type of rain was connected with person, upon his death the same connections were made with rain. When someone such as a powerful shaman died, there where concerns that his spirit could remain on the earth, and that his spirit could be dangerous to the living. The San also never walked over graves.

In the traditions of the Bantu speaking people the birth of an infant was seen as a transitional period. This transitional period was known to...

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