ANCESTORS WORSHIP: A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO THE VENERATION OF SPIRIT PHENOMENA

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Dr. Satheesh Kumar*

Ancestor worship.pptx 2013
Ancestors worship

Introduction 

Ancestor worship or communio sanctorum in the Latin has been under discussion amongst theologians for many decades now. There is an increasing phenomenon of spirit’s veneration elsewhere around the world. Much has been written, many seminars on the topic have been held, and yet, it is still under the spotlight amongst theologians. However, this paper would argue that within the Biblical basis there is no place for worship of any other gods, except the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: The Elohim and El Shaddai of all times.

The evidences for ancestor cult practices are dating to the 7th century BC were first discovered at Jericho in Palestine. Here several skulls were found to have been deposited in a separate room. Some of them covered with a plastic modeling of faces[1]. Ancestor worship is predominant in India among Hindus[2]. The basis of ancestor worship seems to stem from two principle ideas: (1) that “those who have gone before” have a continual and beneficent interest in the affairs of the living; and (2) more widespread, uneasiness, fear of the dead, with practices to appease them.

People believe that ghosts are the spirit of deceased. Many think the ghosts are the spirit apparitions through which the souls of dead persons are said to manifest themselves.[3]  Some people believe that their ancestors actually need to be provided for by their descendants. Others believe these spirits are the souls of deceased ancestors. Ancestor veneration remains among many Africans. Ancestors worship is prevalent even among the Christianity and Islam in various forms. This article will attempt to critically evaluate the issue of ancestor worship in line with the etymology and definitions, and will explore the morphology, phenomenology, and ontology of ancestors worship. The core of the study is to provide a comprehensive understanding of what the Bible talk about the issue of ancestors worship.

1.      Etymology and Definitions

(An’-ses-ters) (ri’shonim, “first ones”): The word ancestor appears in the English Bible only once (Lev. 26:45). The Hebrew word, the ordinary adjective “first,” occurs more than 200 times, and in a few places might fairly be rendered ancestors (e.g. Deut. 19:14; Jer. 11:10). In speaking of ancestors the Old Testament ordinarily uses the word for “fathers” (‘abhoth).[4] L. O. Richards states that one can became ancestor by birth.[5]

The Latin word for ancestor is “antecessor” predecessor, which means “to go before”, from ante + cedere “to go”. Many believe ancestors are progenitor of a more recent or existing species or group. Ancestor worship is a veneration of the spirit of departed dead ones.

It is believed that ancestor worship is a religious form of worship which emphasizes the influence of deceased relatives on the living.[6] Pierce says ancestor veneration is a practice in primal religions of making offerings to the spirits of the dead and expecting to communicate with them through dreams.[7]

The term “Zhuzong” is Chinese word for ancestors. The word “zong” also refers to blood lineage, i.e., ancestry. Julia Ching says “Ancient Chinese religion was in many ways an ancestral religion, involving veneration of the spirits of the deceased”.[8] Therefore, the ancestral worship is focused on a relationship with the deceased spirit – not necessarily with the divine. But many think that the ancestors are the mediators between people and God. This concept is not supported by the Scriptures of the Bible.

An ancestor is one from whom a person is descended and who is usually more remote in the line of descent than a grandparent. The custom of venerating deceased ancestors who are considered still a part of the family and whose spirits are believed to have the power to intervene in the affairs of the living[9].

2.      Morphology Of Ancestor Worship  

It has been said at the early the ancestor worship is predominant in India among Hindus. In India, when a person passes away, the family observes 10-day mourning period, generally called shraddha. Six months and a year hence the Hindu calendar, when the person had died, the family members repeat this ritual. During these rituals, the family prepares the food items that the deceased liked and offers food to the deceased. The Bible explicitly prohibits food offered to the dead (Deut. 26:14).[10] They offer this food to cows and crows as well. They are also obliged to offer sraddha (a small feast of specific preparations) to eligible Bramhins. Only after these rituals are the family members allowed eating.

In African cultures Ancestor worship, prevalent in preliterate societies, is bob to the spirits of the dead. The worship of animal ancestors is prominent and prevalent in Africa.[11] Central to both is the figure of the plant or animal ancestor. Fetishism, the veneration of objects believed to have magical or supernatural potency, springs from the association of spirits with particular places. The oldest form of Ancient European religion (Finno-Ugric religion) is thought to be ancestor worship. They are known as sacred ancestors. Some of the main terms (e.g., “grave,” “hades,” and “soul”) go back several millennia.

In Hinduism, it is believed any of the spirits of the dead ancestors or all of the dead are cremated or buried in accordance with the proper rites. In the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of ancient India, the “fathers” were considered to be immortal like the gods and to share in the sacrifice, though they received different offerings.

Ancestor worship is very prevalent throughout Africa and serves as the basis of many religions. Ancestor veneration is often augmented by a belief in a supreme being, but prayers and sacrifices are usually offered to the ancestors who may ascend to becoming minor deities themselves. The following consideration would help us to know the misconception of ancestors as mediators.

2.1 Ancestors the Mediator between Man and Supreme Being

The death brings an end to normal social relationships. When the spirit separates from the body for its new existence, many provide food and transportation for the journey to a spiritual land. Hiebert states, “It is believed that spirit of the deceased continues to be more or less active participants in everyday affairs, it may mean reintegrating the “living dead” into their new roles in the society”.[12]

It is believed that the ancestors also serve as mediators by providing access to spiritual guidance and power. Death is not a sufficient condition for becoming an ancestor. Only those who lived a full measure of life, cultivated moral values, and achieved social distinction attain this status. Primal religions have a pecking order of power. The Supreme Being was the highest order of power. Man cannot get closer to this Supreme Being. Therefore, most of the religious activities take place around the lesser gods, the ancestors. The ancestors are considered to be second level next to the Supreme power. The third level of power is people and animals. At the lowest level there are rocks, earth and grass.

The ancestors are thought to be interceders between the mankind, environment and god. Ancestors are especially revered. Some of those ancestors are worshiped as gods. However, their main role is mediation and facilitation. It is believed that they watch over their community and warn them against the breaking of taboos. The ancestor worshipers fear death, yet it is at the same time the gateway to becoming an ancestor.[13] On death, each ruler might have been the object of ancestor worship by members of his lineage, the departed leader having become one with the god from whom he claimed descent. A belief in ghost is found in all cultures, in most cases ghosts are viewed with fear and dread. People often go to great lengths to insure the departure of ghosts to another world by providing them with money, possessions, and means of transportation.[14]

2.2. Several Functions of Ancestor Worship

Studies show that ancestor worship serves several important functions. First, it provides people with a theory of misfortune and how to deal with it. Many disasters occur because people have neglected or disobeyed the living dead. The living must then appease the ancestors to gain their blessing. A second function is to reinforce social traditions. Ancestors become the foundation for law. Ancestors naturally prefer old ways and dislike new ones. Consequently, changes normally take place slowly because they must have the approval of the ancestors. Third function is that to show the people that they are belong to large families and are surrounded by powerful ancestors. In this they found a sense of security in life. Finally, belief in ancestors comforts the living, for those who die remain among them as the living dead.[15]

3.      Phenomenology Of Ancestor Worship

In this section, I have dealt with how the ancestors worship is understood by various religions, denominations and individuals. Ancestor worship is at the center of Chinese religion.[16] There are two reasons for ancestor worship in Chinese religion: 1). the son’s respect for his father; and 2). Belief that people continue to live with their ancestors. The following examples help one to understand how the phenomenology of ancestors worship is deeply rooted in the social and religious life of the people.

Case #1: The chief of the village said: “Akwataman is named after Nii Akwata, my ancestor, who founded this village. Before my ancestors settled here, Nii Akwata was a war captain who lived over there under the mountains. There came a drought that was so severe the people had to move, so my ancestor started for water holes. It was a hard time for the village, but Nii found water at this river. He dedicated the village here, and because of his discovery and the successful job he did as a war captain, we named the village after him. It is in honor of him and the subsequent residents of our village, that we celebrate this festival today”.[17]

Case #2: John Saliba says: “Ancestor worship is a strong indication of the value placed on the household and of the strong ties that exist between the past and the present. The beliefs and practices connected with the cult help to integrate the family, to sanction the traditional political structure, and to encourage respect for living elders. Some scholars have also interpreted it as a source of individual well-being and of social harmony and stability. Because it is practiced by family groups, ancestor worship excludes proselytizing and rarely involves a separate priesthood. It has no formal doctrines and is ordinarily an aspect of some larger religious system”[18].

The tribal societies believe that they are bound with ancestral worship without which they cannot be existed. Without ancestor worship they dies, so their well-being is depend upon ancestors. They go to ancestors for guidance in the matters of selling or buying land, security, success, social, and spiritual life. Hiebert writes:

The Hopi Indians of Arzona recently refused to sell tribal lands to urban developers for a shopping center, even though the developers offered them much money. When the developers asked the Hopi why, they said they had asked the ancestors and the ancestors had given them permission to sell because their descendants would benefit. They had asked the living and the living agreed to sell, because they would get rich. But when they asked the unborn, the unborn said no, because if the land were sold, they would have nothing when they came to earth.[19]

Many believe that the ancestors play important role in families, tribes, clan, and villages. The tribe is dependent on the ancestors and the ancestors on the living who keep their memories alive and care for them. It is important, therefore, to have many children, particularly sons, who will remember them after they have gone. People often believe that the ancestors continue to live in the village and must be fed, honored and housed.[20] The religion of Dinka in Sudan believe that the spirit of the dead remains near the house or place of burial.[21]

Case #3: Jyothi Says: “Ancestor worship is a practice based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. All cultures attach ritual significance to the passing of loved ones, but this is not equivalent to ancestor veneration. [1] The goal of ancestor veneration is to ensure the ancestors’ continued well-being and positive disposition towards the living and sometimes to ask for special favors or assistance. [2] The social or non-religious function of ancestor veneration is to cultivate kinship values like filial piety, family loyalty, and continuity of the family lineage. While far from universal, ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times”.

3.1. Ancestors Veneration in India

Ancestor worship is predominant in India among Hindus. In India, when a person dies, the family observes a ten-day mourning period, generally called Saraddha.[22] A year and six months thence, they observe the ritual of Tarpan, in which the family offers tributes to the deceased. During these rituals, the family prepares the food items that the deceased liked and offers food to the deceased. They offer this food to cows and crows as well. They are also obliged to offer Saraddha a small feast of specific preparations, to eligible Bramhins. Only after these rituals the family members are allowed to eat. Each year, on the particular date (as per the Hindu Calendar) when the person had died, the family members repeat this ritual. This phenomenon is very much prevalent among the modern day religious belief and practice.[23]

Apart from this, there is also a fortnight-long duration each year called Pitru Paksha (“fortnight of ancestors”), when the family remembers all its ancestors and offers “Tarpan” to them. This period falls just before the Navaratri or Durga Puja falling in the month of AshwinMahalaya marks the end of the fortnight-long Tarpan to the ancestors.

3.2. Early Christianity’s Attitude

Some early Christians may have been persecuted for their faith, leading some to hide in the catacombs in Rome. As a result, they may have found themselves praying and worshiping God surrounded by the tombs and bodies of the dead. When possible, they may have sought to pray among the bodies of dead Christians, maybe using a coffin or tomb for an altar on which to celebrate the Eucharist.[24] The one that motivate this belief is the idea of life after death. But there are heathens who do not believe in the life after death.[25] From the early apostolic times it appears the Church held a respectful veneration for the dead. This was not supported by the Scriptural corroboration. However, this notion eventually led to the veneration of saints and of their relics.

3.3. Catholicism and Anglicanism’s Attitudes

The Roman Catholic Church as well as the Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodox Churches venerate saints who are in Heaven.[26] Although not necessarily ancestors, the saints are considered departed from Earthly life. They are honored through prayers and feast days. Such holidays to honor the dead in Christianity include All Saints’ Day, All Souls Day, and Day of the Dead.[27] This notion tends to the veneration of the saints in Roman Catholicism in various forms. However, the Protestant Churches that broke away from the Catholic Church in the 16th century repudiated the practice of asking intercession for the dead (1 Timothy 2:5). The veneration of the saints is one of the major practices in none Protestant Churches across the globe. There are distinctions among the Roman Catholicism; some practices a semi Pentecostal method of worship. This group within the Roman Catholicism exercises various spiritual gifts in their worship services as to do with Charismatic Roman Catholicism. However, the traditional Roman Catholicism still holds the veneration of the saints.

4.      Ontology Of Ancestor Worship

The teaching of the Bible is under consideration in this section. The ancestor worship occurred among the Canaanite,[28] Moabites[29] and other pagan neighbors of Israel, particularly the Syrians. No conclusive evidence exists; however, to indicate that ancestor worship or a cult of the dead was ever a part of the religion of Israel. Speaking to the dead was practiced in Egypt. The book of Exodus (chapters 7 and 8) records the Egyptians’ many occultist activities, including magic, sorcery and speaking to the dead.[30] Although prohibitions against such practices were given (Lev 19:28; Deut 14:1; 26:14), these commands were probably given to warn Israel not to begin ancestor worship rather than to command that it be stopped.[31]

Veneration of the dead is based on the belief that the deceased, often family members have a continued existence and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Some groups venerate their ancestors; some faith communities, in particular the Catholic Church, venerate saints as intercessors with God. This can be called a bit of ancestor worship.

5.      Biblical Analysis Of Ancestor Worship 

The Bible does not teach that the dead act as intermediaries between God and man (Ps. 30:9; 1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). The dead are left to rest in peace and that they are not in a position to make intercession for the living (Ps. 115:17; Isa. 8:20, 20). Hebrews 9:27, Luke 16 and 2 Corinthians as well as Revelation 20 say that the spirits of the dead go to either heaven or hell and do not remain in the natural world. For instance, Jesus waited two more days in Bethabara. Apparently (John 11:11, 39) Lazarus was already dead when Jesus heard about him. But then, why did Jesus wait two more days before reaching to Bethany? There are several opinions. However, the believers study Bible affirms that the Jews believed the spirit hovered over the dead body until the fourth day, when decomposition became evident (John 11: 17, 39).[32]

The Bible teaches to respect our parents (Exod. 20:12; Eph. 6:1-3: 1 Tim. 5:8), and this naturally results in remembrance of parents after they have died. But this should not lead to ancestors worship. The World’s Bible Dictionary affirms the following lines:

The living are not able to call upon their dead ancestors for help, nor are they able to give their dead ancestors help, whether by praying to them, praying for them, or presenting offerings on their behalf. Those who die are, by their death, cut off from the world of the living. They join all their ancestors in the world of the dead.[33]

The Bible booms that we should not worship, or pray to any dead person. Worship is reserved only for God and God alone, whether it is, ancestors or animals, or carved rocks, or statues, or professional athletes or Rock Stars etc. While it is true that the sinful ways of one generation can have lasting bad effects on later generations (Exod. 20:5; Acts 7:51-52).

What does the Bible say about ancestors worship?

Ex. 34:14: for you shall worship no other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Deut 26:1 “Then it shall be, when you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it and live in it.

Deut 26:2 that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground which you bring in from your land that the LORD your God gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name.

Deut 26:3 “You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare this day to the LORD my God that I have entered the land which the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.’

Deut 26:4 “Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God.

Deut 26:5 “You shall answer and say before the LORD your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; but there he became a great, mighty and populous nation.

Deut 26:6 ‘And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us.

Deut 26:7 ‘Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression.

Deut 26:8 and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders.

Deut 26:9 and He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Deut 26:10 ‘Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O LORD have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God.

Deut 26:11 and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given you and your household.

Deut 26:12 “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, which they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.

Deut 26:13 “You shall say before the LORD your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments.

Deut 26:14 ‘I have not eaten of it while mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor offered any of it to the dead. I have listened to the voice of the LORD my God; I have done according to all that You have commanded me.

Deut 26:15 ‘Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.’

Deut 26:16 “This day the LORD your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deut 26:17 “You have today declared the LORD to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice.

Deut 26:18 “The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments.

Deut 26:19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the LORD your God, as He has spoken.”

CONCLUSION

Ancestors are seen as important to those who worship them for a number of reasons: First, they are the progenitors of the family and therefore have a natural interest in caring for it. They have ancient knowledge not known by the living and can advise the living regarding family decisions. Second, ancestors exist beyond death and so have knowledge of the spirit world hidden from the living. They see the witches and ghosts that plague humans and protect the living from them. Third, great ancestors are remembered for their power and achievements. The accomplishments of the living never equal those of the founder of the tribe, the great warrior who delivered them from destruction. For example, in Israel the people remembered Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for their accomplishments, especially in responding to God’s call. But they were not worshiped as ancestors of special power.

The ancestor worship occurs in ancient cultures all over the world, and even in modern times it plays an important role in primitive religions. It is founded on the belief that the dead live on and are able to influence the lives of later generations. This belief leads to ancestors’ veneration. In other words, it leads to believing in ghostly appearances of the souls or spirits of persons who are now dead. Above all, the Bible assures us that Christians who die go immediately to be with the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:1-9; Phil. 1:21-25). Non-Christians, on the other hand, go immediately to Hades, the spirit abode of the dead. There is no allowance is made for the dead to visit the land of the living no matter how briefly (Luke 16:19-31).

The ancestor worshipers believe that propitiation, supplication, prayer, sacrifice, food offered are various ways in which the living can communicate with their ancestors. But the prophet Isaiah condemned those who go for spirit’s veneration and quest for future (Isa. 8:19-22). Isaiah says, spiritists and mediums and those who consult them will eventually be judged by God. In Deuteronomy 18:9-14, God condemned all these practices are worthy of God’s greater judgment. Ancestor worship tends to spiritualists and communicates with the dead but actually communicates with demons (1 Cor. 10:20-21; 1 Tim. 4:1). One who consults the dead may mean the spiritist’s attempt to contact the dead to gain advice, information on the future, or help in manipulation.

Many of the ghost’s stories are centered on the belief in the spirit of dead ones. The spirit appearances and ghosts stories that deny natural explanation are demonic in origin (Matt. 8:28; Mark 5:2-5). The Devil and his legions could pretend to be the spirit of departed or masquerade as servants of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14 -15). They can ‘change the outward form’ (metaschēmatizomenoi) and pretend to be the spirit of ancestors. Moreover, the Scripture strongly indicates that the ancestors are not mediators and that they are in no position to make intercession for the living ones (Ps. 115:17; 146:4; Eccl. 12:7).

There is no biblical support for Christians to worship their ancestors of deceased spirit. The Scriptures strongly condemn the idea of ancestor worship. Hebrews 2:14 notes Satan’s preoccupation with death. It would be fitting for his legions to pretend to be the spirits of the departed. The ghost’s stories are centered on the belief of deceased spirits; they are honored by many as ancestors. There is no need for Christian’s spirit to return to “haunt” this world. The spirit of a non-Christian is not permitted to leave its place of torment in Hades (Rev. 20:11-15). The veneration of ancestors is explicitly condemned in the Bible.


*Prof: Satheesh Kumar serves as the Lecturer, and Dean of the Academic Studies at Asia Evangelical College & Seminary (AECS), Bangalore. He gained his Bachelor of Theology from Life Biblical Baptist Bible College & Seminary (LBBBC), Kerala and Bachelor of Divinity, Master of Divinity and Master of Theology (Theology) from South India Baptist Bible College & Seminary (SIBBC), Coimbatore. He is also pursuing his Doctor of Ministry (Missiology) program at South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS), Bangalore.

[1]http://mb-soft.com/believe/txw/ancest.htm(Accessed on November, 2013).

[3] Josh McDowell and Don Stewart, Handbook of Today’s Religions, (London: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), 196.

[4]Bible Soft, International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright, Biblesoft, 1996), 130.

[5] Lawrence O. Richards, Zondervan Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, (Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 40.

[7] R. Pierce Beaver and Others, The World’s Religions: A Lion Handbook, (Oxford: Lion Publishing Plc, 1992), 392.

[8] Julia Ching, “East Asian Religions” in Willard G. Oxtoby (ed) World Religions: Eastern Traditions, 2nd Edn, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 318.

[9] Merriam-Webster, I. Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. Includes index. (10th ed.), (Merriam-Webster: Springfield, Mass 1993).

[10] See P.S. Johnston, “Burial and Mourning” in T.D Desmond Alexander David W. Baker (eds) Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, (Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2003) 106.

[11] Ancestor Worshiphttp://mb-soft.com/believe/txw/ancest.htm, Accessed on November, 2013.

[12] Paul G. Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology, (Michigan: Baker Book House, 1992), 169.

[13]Emmanuel E. James, A Study of Religions, (Bangalore: Theological Book Trust, 2006), 24.

[14] Paul G. Hiebert, Cultural Anthropology, Second Ed. (Michigan: Baker Book House, 1976), 382.

[15]Paul G. Hiebert and Eloise Hiebert Meneses, Incarnational Ministry, (Michigan: Baker Book House, 1995), 121-122.

[16] David A. Brown, A Guide to Religions, (Delhi: ISPCK, 1991), 94.

[17] Greg Roth, “The Ancestors Feast”, 27.

[18] Ancestor Worship – is at http://mb-soft.com/believe/txw/ancest.htm. (Accessed on October, 2013).

[19] Paul G. Hiebert and Eloise Hiebert Meneses, Incarnational Ministry, (Michigan: Baker Book House, 1995), 97.

[20] Hiebert and Eloise, Incarnational Ministry, 120 – 121.

[21] Brown, A Guide to Religions, 19.

[22]“Shraddha or Saraddha” is a Sanskrit word which has no equivalent in English; at best it can be understood as faith with love and reverence. It means devotion or passion towards anything or god. Hindu ritual performed for one’s ancestors, especially deceased parents. This is as noticed the Sanskrit term for “faith”, in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.  It can be a girl’s name in countries like India.

[23]Ancestors worship is a phenomenon today, amazingly just behind of the Asia Evangelical College & Seminary building in Bangalore where ancestors worship is very much openly active in the areas where the bodies of dead are buried in sepulchers. For instance, the image in this article is taken by the author himself from the spot of ancestors worship shows this fact. Here the tombs are decorated by the families of deceased ones for the veneration of the spirits. In a month, three to four groups by various families come to venerate their ancestors with special meals, charms, garlands, prayers and praises. This is because of a belief in the continuous existence of deceased just as he lived on the earth.

[24]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veneration_of_the_dead From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Accessed on November 2013)

[25]B. Ziegenbalg, Genealogy of the South-Indian Gods: A Manual of the Mythology and Religion of the People of Southern India, Including a Description of Popular Hinduism, (New Delhi: Unity Book Service, 1984), 161.

[26]See Abraham T. Thomas, The Christians (Trivandrum: Landmark Missionary Church Publications, 1993), 3-7.

[28]Confer with Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Others (eds), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 1: A-D (Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 122.

[29]P.S. Johnston, “Burial and Mourning” in T.D Desmond Alexander David W. Baker (eds) Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, (Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2003) 106.

[30]Josh Mc Dowell and Don Stewart, Concise Guide to Today’s Religions, (England: Scripture Press, 2006), 230.

[31]Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986).

[32]Criswell Center for Biblical Studies, Believer’s Study Bible, electronic ed., (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997).

[33] Don Fleming, World’s Bible Dictionary, (Lowa Falls: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 1990), 17.

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