Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Why Pae(Gurung death ritual) continues for three days?

Pae(Argum) is a Gurung death rite ceremony. It is very significant for Gurungs as compared with other rituals. The main purpose of Pae is to send departed souls to the Siminasa (land of ancestors) and make familiar with Khe-Ma(ancestors). Khe means male ancestors and Ma means female ancestors. Gurungs believe that if the Pae ceremony is not performed, he/she transforms into moh(evil spirit) and harms to all. Why Pae ceremony continues for three days? How Gurungs define death? How they perceive the world? This article provides ant-eye views on these queries which greatly enhance the understanding of Gurung time-honored death rite of passage. 

Every culture has a certain function. It might make everyone think, why Gurung death ritual takes so long time? Each day of the Pae ceremony has a purpose. With in-depth analysis, we can find reasons for three days are as follows

1st day: Invitation to all the new and old departed souls.
2nd day: Gathering of all relatives and departed souls.
3rd day: Farewell to the departed souls.

#Analysis of 1st day#

Why Gurungs invite to all the ancestors(departed soul)?

Every human activity is guided by certain beliefs. If we want to know why people perform certain activities, we should know their belief system. To know the reasons for inviting ancestors, we should know the Gurung belief system. What is the belief system of Gurungs? What is their worldview? 

We are living in the physical world. We can see different living and non-living beings in this physical world. e.g. people, animals, plants, stone, water, etc. This world is also called the natural world, the visible world. We are surviving in this world, interacting physically in day to day activities. We use water to drink. Food to eat. House to live. Clothes to wear, etc. We are utilizing nearly all objects in this physical world. We are interacting with different people in society. We have different social relationships with them. The question may arise, is this only a world that exists? Physically, what we see around is only a world? Or is there another world beyond? Different society has different beliefs about the world. How Gurungs perceive their world around?
According to Pye-Tan Lhu-Tan(Gurung religious text), there exists a world beyond the physical world, which is invisible. This world is also called the supernatural world. The non-physical entities like soul, god, spirit, etc exist there. Gurungs believe, there exists both a visible and invisible world, or both physical and non-physical world, or both natural and supernatural world. They believe that the soul, god, spirit possess a superpower to protect as well as harm us depending upon our activities. 

In this physical world, we invite people to a different event, ritual, and ceremony based on kinship or relations. The invitation makes the ceremony successful and creates a strong social bond which is very beneficial. In society, we all have different social relationships depending on our values and norms. What Gurungs believe is that they have social relationships not only in the physical world but also with the entities in the invisible world or supernatural world.

Putting it in another way, even after death, Gurungs believe that they have a social relationship with their ancestors or departed souls that are beyond this physical world. To make the pae ceremony successful, Gurungs believe they need help not only from the physical world but also from the world beyond. So, the purpose of the first day is to invite all the ancestors in the Pae ceremony. They make Aanla(green bamboo pole hanging different materials at its tip) and insert it into the roof of the deceased house. Aanla acts as a tower of mobile which links the visible and invisible world. Gurungs believe that the invited departed soul comes to the ceremony through the aanla. 

#Analysis of 2nd day#

The etic perspective of death

Death differentiates living from dead. The bitter truth about death is that it makes impossible to live together living and dead. We are human beings; we have tremendous emotional attachments. We refuse to accept this reality of death. Death cuts the possibility of togetherness forever which creates huge pain and suffering for us.

How Gurungs perceive death?

Some people believe death ends all. The perception varies from culture to culture. What Gurungs believe is that death is not an end, but only the change of the world. Even if the world changed, the relationship between the living and dead people still exists. If there is any misfortune or feel sick, they want help from ancestors. If they want to progress in life, they want a blessing from ancestor. For Gurungs, ancestors are their god. In Gurung culture, living and dead people depend on each other. They help each other. There is a reciprocal social relationship between them.

How Gurungs manage the effect of death? 

Gurungs have various ways of managing death. Bridging their unique perception into rituals, on the second day, they make plaa (an effigy of dead people). They make fun and enjoy; spend a whole night being around the plaa, feeling as if they are living. So, the purpose of the second day is to get all living and dead together in the pae ceremony and live even for a night. It seems Gurungs attempt to get victory over death diluting their intensity of pain.

Why and how the activities of Pae helps to dilute the intensity of pain?

Our mind works in association, which is the arbitrary relation. There is no true connection between mind and object(event). What simultaneously occurs is very significant for our mind and it records them for recall. Even after the completion of the pae ceremony, if someone tends to trap into the deep sorrow, the mind quickly triggers the fun activities of pae which was occurring simultaneously. This ultimately dilutes the intensity of pain.

#Analysis of 3rd day#

feeding for soul through sheep
There is no land for dead in the land of the living; and no land for living in the land of the dead. -Gurung text(Pye-Tan Lhu-Tan) 

Why do Gurungs bid farewell to departed souls?

Death is a change in the world. All the departed souls have their world. According to Gurung spiritual text, they should not remain in our world after the Pae ceremony. They have to leave this world. They are only brought for a specific period by the Gurung shamans(pachyu, khlebree, and bonpo lam). Different varieties of delicious foods and fruits are prepared in farewell by relatives. How do they feed to the departed soul?  On the third day, the soul is transferred to the body of sheep and fed to souls through the sheep. 

In conclusion, Pae is a long-standing tradition of the Gurung community and the relevance of three days come to light through in-depth reasons embedded. 


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