Ancestor Worship
The worship of the spirits of
dead ancestors. It is based upon
the belief that the ancestral spirits
are immortal and have the power
to help or harm the living. Rites
are performed to appease the
spirits or to persuade them to use
their power to benefit the living.
By strengthening the bond
between the living and the dead,
ancestor worship emphasizes the continuity of life.
Counter
Ancestor Worship



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Kinds of Ancestor Worship
Ancestral spirits may be worshiped as individuals or as a group, and by a single
descendant or by a family, clan, tribe, or nation. Ritual activities may be simple
or elaborate and assume varying degrees of importance in the religion of people.

Ancestor worship occurs in both primitive and civilized societies. It is most
important among some of the Sudanese, Bakongo, and Bantu tribes of Africa.
Ancestor worship is also found in Japan, Melanesia, and Polynesia.

Ancestor worship is a widespread practice in China, where it has existed since
1523. Most Chinese believe that the living and dead members of a family
influence each other. Families notify their ancestors of important occasions and
make offerings of food, flowers, and incense to them before household shrines
or in ancestral temples. Chinese ancestor worship also involves elaborate funeral
rites, frequent memorial ceremonies, and regular care of graves.

It was a minor cult among the Romans. (See: Manes)
.
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