Ancestor Worship: ATR
It is vital in ATR to celebrate the ancestors of the African people: "Abundant life is realized through ancestral communion. The ancestors link individuals in a clan with the visible and invisible world. (kauta,47). It clearly plays a major role in the religious belief systems and acts as tool to commemorate its' own history. It is easier to understand the African's take on ancestor worship by further understanding there view on death. Unlike the western world, where death is a time when many fear, the Africans view it as a celebration and a beginning step towards ancestor worship. As an Irish catholic, I don't necessarily fear death; however, it is in my nature to understand that the dead, are actually deceased, and no longer living. They have passed onto another form of being, and are no longer in our immediate life. In other words, it is easier for believers of ATR to accept death as part of life. This belief only applies however, to death of old age. It is a "dignified" death, whereas the death at an early age is seen as a curse. The exception for this rule is when a young person dies in a war. The idea that people who have passed away, are actually still alive, can be supported by the belief of Living-dead and Dead- dead. These two types of "dead" serve as a way to separate into two groups: the deceased and ancestors. Living-dead are those who have been dead for less than 200 years and were regarded as moral, positive people. These people are adored ancestors because they are fresh in the minds of the people, and have created a legacy that is positive in every way. The admiration from younger generations allows the living dead to be titled as ancestors. The dead-dead are those that have died over 200 years ago, or were known as criminals, witches, and/or immoral people. They are not considered ancestors.
The importance of ancestors, or living dead, in African traditional religion should not be overlooked....
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