Rites and Customs in Various Cultural Backgrounds | Free Essay Example

Rites and Customs in Various Cultural Backgrounds

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Topic: Culture
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Indian Custom: Diwali

India has an ancient culture with many rites and customs. One of the best-known traditions is the festival of Diwali, which celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. It is celebrated throughout the country with some regional variations and comprises some important rituals that are traditionally performed by people. One of the integral aspects of preparation for Diwali is cleansing the house. It includes throwing away unnecessary stuff, cleaning, or even repainting homes in case a family can allow it. It is done to please goddess Lakshmi, who loves clean dwellings. Another important tradition is making sweets. They are distributed among the guests who visit the house during festive days. One more Diwali tradition is shopping. In fact, it is a big shopping festival where people can buy new things on certain favorable days. Still, the major rites are related to lights. Thus, people decorate homes with illumination to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune. Also, traditional handmade earthen lamps are made. Moreover, the victory of good over evil is celebrated with firecrackers. Their light and noise are considered to keep away evil spirits.

Malay Wedding Customs

The life of Malay people is rich in diverse rites, customs, and ceremonies. One of the brightest ceremonies is the Malay wedding, which is usually a colorful festival with many guests, which can last for several days. Traditionally, weddings were organized by the parents of a man and a woman, this bride and groom met only at the ceremony. However, while parental arrangements are still common at present, young people meet each other long before the wedding.

In fact, the Malay wedding ceremony consists of several components. Adat Merisik is a process of seeking a couple when a family or a young man chooses a bride. After that, when the decision to marry is announced, the families gather to discuss the plan of action. Henna Staining Ceremony begins three days before the wedding and includes the presentation of the bride’s wardrobe and henna staining itself. The following component is formal. It is called Akad Nikah, and it is the marriage contract. The branding ceremony is a demonstration of the blessing and approval of the couple. They sit on a special sofa, and their guests sprinkle them with rice and scented water. Finally, the ceremony called Royalty for a Day is held. The newly-wed couple is treated like king and queen. It includes many people dressed in costumes, music, and flowers. After that, the guests are invited to a festive meal.

Jewish Shabbat Custom

Shabbat is, probably, one of the best-known Jewish customs. It is considered to be a centerpiece of Jewish culture. It is a day of rest that has to be spent with family. It begins on Friday evening and lasts until the sun sets on Saturday. Shabbat comprises many rules and traditions that should be followed. Before the Shabbat evening, the candles are lit. This process symbolizes peace and the festiveness of that time. A celebratory meal is also typical of Shabbat. The family gathers at a table to have dinner together and to say a prayer. However, it is important to prepare everything in advance, because cooking, as well as some other activities, are not allowed during Shabbat. In addition to cooking, Orthodox Jews should not drive, turn on or off any appliances, or carry something outside the house. There is also a tradition of bidding farewell to Shabbat. It is called Havdalah, which is Hebrew for “separation.” Commonly, on a Saturday night, a blessing is cited over a cup of wine after the three stars appear in the sky. Still, this ritual may differ in the time it is held, depending on the community.

Native American Death and Funeral Customs

Although Native American culture and customs are diverse due to the existence of more than 500 tribes, there are some common beliefs that influenced tribal traditions. Native American beliefs about death make an important part of their life. While there is no concept of religion that usually defines the issue of death, Native Americans developed their beliefs on the ground of historical, spiritual teachings. In fact, every tribe has specific traditions about death and funerals. Nevertheless, all of them share a common feature, which is the belief that the spirit of a person continues living after physical death. Although there are no concepts of heaven and hell in the Native American tradition, some tribes believe that there is a particular place where the souls of the dead are welcomed. Other tribes practice communication with the spirits of their dead ancestors due to particular ceremonies and rituals. Moreover, reincarnation is another belief typical of some Native American tribes.

Funeral customs are mainly aimed at helping the spirit arrive at its final destination. Some tribes provide objects necessary for the spirit, including weapons, jewelry, and food. Other tribes paint the face of a dead person red, which is the color of life. Due to the fear of the dead, some Native American tribes burn the possessions of the dead person, including their homes, so that the spirit cannot return.