You will prepare and submit a term paper on Taboo. Your paper should be a minimum of 1000 words in length. While it is true that some practices shown here are those that I cannot imagine that I would do, what are interesting are the foundations of these actions. However, while I firmly belief in diversity, there are still actions that I could not take not because it is different from what I am used to, but due to questions of health and hygiene. For example, in Toraja, Indonesia, until they are able to give a lavish funeral, their deceased stays with them and considered as merely sick (National Geographic, 2004). I am not sure how healthy it is to have a deceased body inside the house. In Varanasi, India, there is a public cremation at a river where pilgrims bathe (National Geographic, 2004). Of all the practices shown in the video, it is understandable that I am more able to relate to the work of a doctor who performs autopsies in California (National Geographic, 2004). On a personal stance, the practice is at least hygienic and based on modern science. Personal Experiences with Death My personal experiences with death have not been much, and have not been associated to people who are particularly close to me. Some were distant relatives or colleagues of my older family members. Most of the funerals had practices that are similar to mine, so I did not particularly notice anything unusual. I remember more the funerals mixed with other traditions such as Chinese. I did like the red and gold ornaments, the lavish gifts and incense during the funeral. However, I find it disconcerting to have a group of women who fake crying at one corner. I was told that they are hired and are supposed to be crying loudly the whole time. I had to exert lots of effort to keep from laughing at several points, because instead of feeling the sorrow of the surviving family, I got distracted by the loud wails of the hired females. It has made me feel uncomfortable because I was not able to focus on paying respects to the dead. My attention keeps going back to the crying women. Death in Other Cultures There is another Indonesian ritual involving double burial. I learned that the practice is deeply rooted in the concept of sentiments and values regarding the link between the society, the surviving family, and the body and soul of the deceased. Such practice extends from 6 month to as long as 6 years. On average, the whole process lasts for 2 years. During this period, everything about the dead person is considered taboo. The person’s personal possessions are even destroyed. Still, the deceased body is protected from possible evil spirits through rituals, and is treated by the bereaved as still alive. This goes on until the body fully decomposes, making it ready for the final burial (Zahorka, 2001). Another ritual I have researched on is about a culture that practices the reversal of normal activities during the mourning period. A good example of this is the Jewish ritual. I have learned that a Jewish mourner is not allowed to leave the house, interact with other people, wear nice clothes or leather footwear, accessorize the self, take a bath, remove or shave body hair, or have sexual relations during the first 7 days of the mourning period. The mourners are expected not to use furniture such as a chair for personal comfort. They are expected to sit on the floor or low chair. Some prohibitions last up to 30 days. The mourner should not participate in any festive activities for the next 12 months.
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