Melanesian Rituals and beliefs

Essay by MelsyHigh School, 12th gradeA+, March 2004

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One of the fundamental aspects of the Melanesian religion is the fact that their society, culture and religion are interdependent. If one aspect stood alone the society would collapse. So when considering if belief and ritual are the foundations of the pacific societies you must also consider the way in which their society and culture influences them in what they believe and also the rituals they perform.

The main pacific society we have been studying in class is the Mae Enga people who live in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Over the centuries the Enga people have adapted certain cultural characteristics to cope with varying environmental and social changes. Some aspects of the Enga people's lives that have shown the most cultural adaptation to the surrounding ecosystem are their horticultural practices, system of rituals, and life within their beliefs. Through these adaptations, the Enga have gained ways to regulate their population, control communal resources, and regulate the environment through their rituals.

The traditional origin belief held by the Enga people is that they are descendants of the sky people. The first man and woman on earth were the daughter of the moon and the son of the sun. The male creator god, Aitawe, and the sky beings inhabit the upper realm (in the sky). These sky dwellers are organized into patrilineal descent groups and they marry, feud, grow, crops, raise pigs, pay death compensations and so on. Some men describe the terrestrial system as the shadow of the other. The Mae believes that the sky people control man's fate and a man has no way of influencing the decision of the sky dwellers.

One of the main focuses the Mae Enga people have is their belief on the activities of ghost. The Mae believe that every human fetus...