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Rituals and Environmental Relations

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Now what is this ritual form? Ritual according to Rappaport in a way sort of denote theperformance, that is an accent of more or less invariant sequences of formal acts and utterances not entirely encoded by the performance. Why it that it is not encoded by the performers but by others, because the performer simply does what is being practices from the past, right. Therefore he merely act and it is this act usually are repetitive in nature.

Now if you talk about ritual, the ritual has certain different meanings and it also encompasses much more than the kind of religious behavior which we are looking in this particular lecture, because there are so different practitioners and discipline which talks about ritual. Now for instance the psychiatrist in a way use this particular word ritual similarly which is conceived to be rather related synonymous with ceremony to refer both to pathological stereotyped behaviors of some neurotics which is both from the study made by Sigmund Freud way back 1907and also to a certain conventional and repetitive but nevertheless adaptive interaction between people. Also in the discipline of sociology and anthropology rituals and ceremony in a way designate a large range of social events not all of which are to be categorized as religious or may denote the formal aspects of such events.

Now also the ethnologists like who are more or less into the study of cultural language have used it virtually. As interchangeably with display that is how it is being performed and acted out to a so designate the behavior they have in a way observed not only among other mammals but also other among reptiles, birds, fish and even members of the other Phyla. Now therefore ritual is not something
which is being normally restricted to a human as such but also other mammals, which are normally being displayed. Therefore rituals has in a way a different embedded if not encompasses not just religious behavior but sort of the species daily encounters a daily display of their actions.

Now in a way rituals designates a form of structure what Rappaport in a way has talked about and Tambiah has a different understanding here. Ritual is often taken to be a symbolic form. Now because unless it has certain kind of meanings attached to that particular performances itual has ritual is meaningless, therefore it has to be understood as a symbolic form. Now the significance of this observation that our definition of ritual is formal the performances of more or less invariance sequence of formal action utterances not entirely in a way encoded by the performance logically until the establishment of conventions.

The sealing of social contract and the construction of these integrated conventional order. So in a way you are following a particular rules and principles by engaging in these rituals. Now therefore it becomes sort of a symbolic form, now for instance if you look at the Maring ritual cycle which also constitute a functional ecological theory of ritual in general where I quote from Rappaport when he talks about the slaughter of pigs for the ancestors or the sacrifices of that pigs o the ancestors that if we are to in a way understand what is uniquely human we must also consider those aspects of existence which man shares with other creatures. So, it is important for us to establish the kind of meanings we share with other creatures, so in a way you can just go through this particular slide where in the sacrifices of pigs is important and it symbolizes not just the needs of the people who engage in slaughtering.

But also in a way it is a practices which is perceived to be an adjustment to their environment. Now sometimes it can be in a be observed in two different aspects, which is more of adaptive and it can also be maladaptive and it can as we also discuss in the proceedings lectures about the slaughtering of pigs among the Tsembaga community that is the Maring. We also questioned about what is the manifest and the latent functions of this particular rituals of slaughtering of pigs. Now therefore this particular religious ritual in a way is to be understood in the context of the beliefs which is associated with them in that particular frame of reference.

Now if we try to see it from something which is external to it, it might not make sense, therefore any kind of act or perform or a formal act has to be sort of understood in that frame of reference. Now otherwise there are different other explanation about ritual again because myth in a way also implies ritual and ritual implies myth.

And they are seen to be one of the same and rituals also signifies neither more or less than what is signified by the references symbolically encoded in its action and utterances this is by Edmund Leach. Now the ritual form in a way adds something to the substance of the ritual that is symbolically which is encoded substance by itself cannot be usually expressed. In a sense Rappaport take the ritual to be the social act which is basic to humanity that is a part of the socialization processes.

Now encoding by other than performer is important because the performers of ritual do not specify all the acts and utterances consisting their own performances. They follow more or less orders established or taken to have been established by others. Now why is it that the performance or the performer usually don’t engage in specifying all the X and the utterances which normally, which is considered in once performances because usually these meanings which are being attributed or attached to it are more or less already establish or taken to have been established by others.

So one in a way tends to not really emitted but meanings which are also already encoded in the previous performances, therefore this kind of behavior in ritual tends to be more of punctilious and repetitive and rituals are performed in the specified context that is they are regularly repeat d at times establish by clock, calendar, the biological rhythm or we can also talk about certain agricultural rituals which are normally practices by different native societies in different physical and environmental conditions.

Which again is also defined by certain social circumstances and other and often they tends to account special places as well. Now what is true of human is also true of other animals, now the kind of rituals in some way the it might be explicitly different or have different meanings but it also is pretty much true in the context of other animals as well. Now what is rituals and ceremonies the differences because normally we tends to see rituals and ceremonies as one in the same. Now in the works of Gluckman and Gluckman they state that the term ritual is more stipulated to cover actions which had reference in the view of the actors that is such as to occult powers, where such beliefs were not present it was suggested that the use of ceremony would be much more appropriate.

Now Firth in a way has sort of a different opinion here and which I quote ceremonial I regard as
a species of ritual in which however the emphasis is more upon symbolic acknowledgement and demonstration of social situation upon the efficacy of procedures in modifying that situations. Whereas other ritual procedures are believed to have ability of their own ceremonial procedures while formal in character are not believed in themselves, to sustain situation or effect a change in it. So this is the kind of differences which Firth has posited or between these ritual and ceremony and in the context of theatre and ritual if you look at the differences, in a way when the ritual is being performed those who are present in a way becomes part of the congregation and sort of defining relations of the members of this congregation to the event for which they are present is more or less participation.

Now whoever is part of that ritual in a way not just become a congregation but also become a participant or a participant observer and then whereas in the case of theatre or theatrical events
normally, it is the performers and on the one hand it is the audience or the spectator that is what is being the performer and audience. Now audience and the performer are more or less radically separated from each other always in function and almost always in space and time and often clearly marked off by the raised stages even the stages is different and so and so forth because it is pretty much different.

Now Gluckman in a way has used the term called ritualization to refer to the kind of assignment of ritual roles to individuals in conformity to their secular relations and statuses that is the kinship relationship. How an individual acted out or how one performs a ritual is also more or less based on one social or secular relations and statuses of someone playing the role of a father and then so and so forth. Therefore that sort of differences is important for us that is to clear of the differences between rituals and ceremonies and theatre and rituals.

Now how does rituals becomes a mode of communication. Now this ritual utterances are not merely words but which are frequently known to be it which possesses special characteristic or stereotypy,
weirdness which Malinowski again talk about and repetitiveness that may enhance their seeming force and so may the often noted emphasis upon propriety and precision in uttering them. So this separation in time and space of some rituals from their daily life, the kind of ritual postures and gestures, the weirdness some of these ritual utterances what once exuberant elaboration of some of objects and structures used in rituals becomes clear. This particular effectiveness of these signals in a way is also enhanced if they are easy to sort of distinguish from the ordinary technical acts that is the transmitters of these rituals message also are among their most important receivers.

Now I will stop here and then continue the different enactments of how meanings are being attached to rituals in the next lectures thank you.

Well as we had discussed rituals the kind of role it plays and how it is used as a mode of communications not just in terms of the one who actually does perform the rituals but also other components which are involved in the whole process of this ritual. And we also had discussed that the rituals normally are not just mere words utterances but it actually is something which is encoded with different kind of meanings. So in order to see or make understand this particular ritual process one also needs to see or contextualized in time and space and the effectiveness is rather being filled in terms of the kind of symbols or signal which enhanced and also how it is being the meaning is being enacted.

Now enactment of this meaning in a way can be seen in the context of the physical and the meaningful and also when we talk about the physical and the meaningful it involves the kind of actions how an individual tries to not just perform the rituals but also how he as an individual make sense of it. The kind of expectations which normally involved in this ritual is important in this context.

And secondly it is also important to see the kind of acceptance and belief and conformity within a particular society or a community. Now what is this acceptance stand, which means the idea or the kind of action which is being performed by the ritual performer has needs to be accepted by the other members of the society and also it needs to have some kind of a belief from other members that so and so rituals in a way would have certain kind of an outcome or it will definitely be have an effective.

And also conformity by other members as we had differentiate between theatre and rituals were in a theatre normally it is the performer and the audience but in the case of rituals whoever is present there becomes a participant so therefore it is important for other members who are part or being present there to conform to the kind of rules and also values which are already being carried on for generations. Now that is how meanings are being encoded and also being followed by other members of the society. Therefore this enactment of meaning in this enactment of meaning it is important for once to look at to have this acceptance, belief and conformity. Now moving on I would like to discuss how rituals regulations actually happened in environmental relations and which I will of course be discussing in the light of the Tsembaga community in New Guinea.

Now how rituals in a way regulate and the kind of processes which involve and if at all how rituals become effective not just in terms of their immediate neighbors or environment but also in a far more less environmental relations with other members of the group.

Now if you look at as we had discussed the meaning of what religion is by Emile Durkheim. Now we happen to see that normally the functionalist tends to see this religious behavior to be sort of engaged in having a specific goal or which we can say as an analytical goal and all this world then it is nothing but the elucidation of events, processes and also a relationship which occur within a social unit.

Now let me talk about this relationship which occur within a social unit we need to make sure or need to be very clear about what social unit is. Now Durkheim in a way was also a functionalist and he tends to see religion as playing a role of a unifying factor or answering and bringing some kind of solidarity in the community.

Now similarly even in the discipline of anthropology this earliest behavior in a way has analytical goals and which often is being displayed in the context of events, processes or relationship which occurs within the social unit and a social unit is nothing but again its a often a group of people who entertain the same kind of beliefs about the universe or in other words we can say who have more or less a similar cosmology or a group of people or a congregation who in a way participate together in the performance of this religious rituals.

Now who in a way have similar beliefs and practices and who in some sense have this conformed or accept this religious behavior is a social unit. Now in order to further elaborate what is the functions of these religious rituals I quote from Homans in which he says that the functions of rituals can be contextualize in the context that ritual actions do not produce a practical result on the external world.

Now usually we anticipate that rituals will have certain kind of impact and which can be pretty much apparent and evident but as Homans says rituals does not produce the practical results to the external world which means it does not have an immediate if not a direct consequences or a practical result and that is one of the reason why we call them rituals and but to make the statement in a sense is not to say that ritual does not have any functions, its function rather is not related to the world external to the society.

But rather it is embedded or which is an internal to the constitution of the society. So in a sense a ritual is pretty much internal in character and which is only operationalize or effective only to members of the society who are part of it and also through this ritual it gives the members of the society certain kind of confidence and if it dispels their anxieties and also it disciplines their social organizations.

Now by participating in a ritual normally it to some extent has not just guided by the individuals but also it enhance not just the confidence but also in a way it brings certain kinds of hopes to the members of the community and also when they are in their adversity or their grievances it is sometime tends to wipe of their grievances and anxieties and also by following certain kinds of norms and values. It disciplines their social organizations. So in a sense what humans in a way this define is ritual has served a lot of purpose to the internal structure of the social organization rather than the external. Now therefore we cannot really say that ritual is not having any kind of consequences or impacts but rather internally it seems to provide a certain kind of far-reaching impact.

Now if we look closely at the kind of ritual cycles among the Tsembaga community in New Guinea now what are the kind of roles this ritual actually plays and to what extent this ritual is being effective and how do the members in a way conform or discipline themselves or what are the kind of plants and animals which they in a way perceives to be sacred. Now ritual in a way plays an important part in sort of regulating the relationship of these within the Tsembaga community and with both the non-human components of their immediate environment and also the human component at their immediate environment that is other group members like the maring speaking groups and because the reason why it is important to look at the other similar groups is because they seems to have maintained not always peaceful but also at times there is a war going on between different communities. So to what extent and what are the kind of relationship the Tsembaga community in a way share with their neighboring groups and then how is ritual in a way determinantal in sort of sharing their relationship with other external members of the group.

So it will be important to locate and contextualize the Tsembaga’s ritual cycling this sense. Now this ritual regulation also in a way helped to maintain not just between the nonhuman and the human but also the biotic communities existing within the territories that is the ridge which in asense redistribute land among people and people over land and limits the frequencies of fighting. Now normally people go way to war when they are in a way prepare enough or perform some certain kind of rituals. Now again that is how the environment in a way is being kept balanced in some sense now we had also partly discussed about Rappaport’s speaks for the ancestors in some time when we were talking about the conceptual meanings of human ecology, the kind of models which are involved, the individual, the cognized system model so and so forth I won’t be repeating that.

But I just only partially try to recall some of those as we are talking in the context of this how religion is playing an important or ritual is important role in this ecology. Now religious ritual also in a sense can be defined as a prescribed performance of conventionalized X that is pre prescribes or pre-decided rules which are being normally followed in a sort of conventionalized manner and which is manifested directly towards the involvement of the non-empirical or the supernatural agencies in the affairs of the actors.

So in a way human tends to shape their imaginings or understanding of their rituals or performances in relation to the non-human or the supernatural agencies how they maintain certain kind of relations and what are the kind of expectations which are hovering around in that community. Now at this point it is important to point out what are the kind of the ideas which surround the Tsembaga ecosystem. What then is an ecosystem? Our understanding so far goes that an ecosystem is the kind of relationship which shares among the species in a particular geographical needs or in ecological needs and looking at the tsembaga ecosystem it is also important to point out the kind of operations which they are engage into and what are the food crops they have been pretty much dependent on.

Now an ecosystem in the context of the tsembaga also consists of the material exchange and also how they maintain this against other human groups which in a sense is being pretty much exclusively access to this resources within their territorial borders. Now sometimes it is also interesting to see that how a particular plant is given so much importance and how does it convey a meaning to other members of the group in terms of certain kinds of difficulties or any kind of eventualities arises.
Now conversely it is also from this territory alone that the tsembaga were able to generate the subsistence means of this livelihood for them and some of the normally agriculture practices
which they follow is the they follow the horticulture is that is more or less engage in gardening. Now some of the staple roots also which includes a range of root crops taro and then the sweet potatoes being the most important and yams and manioc less so.

Now all the gardens are in a way mix and many of them are containing certain kind of major root crops, many greens namely the Taro-yam gardens and also the sugar sweet potato gardens. Now these are partly the sort of the economic background of the tsembaga communities and were the kind of staple that they normally and get, apart from this they also engage in Harding of animals like pigs and which in a way is sort of a source of nutrition and diet for them or maybe we can say its a source of protein for them.

Now as a rule these populations are again being sort of redistributed and stated in terms of the ritual cycles. Now a man becomes a member of territorial group by participating within it in the planting of rumbim. Now what is this rumbim, why is the planting of a rumbim so much given importance here. Now the importance of this rumbim planting rituals again in a sense represents or even constitute the fundamental terms of the maring cosmology and society at the same time that it establishes a sanctified truce. Now a truce is being signed between the human and nonhuman and when a rumbim is being planted it in a sense give an assurance or it testify that in that rumbim, it contains the spirit or soul of there and sister. Now in a way as long as that rumbi stays in the soil it in a way have sort of a mutual understanding between the tsembaga and nonhuman or the supernatural forces.

Now therefore it in a sense have that kind of understanding if not a cordial relationship between them and through these practices it also maintain sort of a healthy or an adaptive mechanism between the nonhuman and the human and Rumbim is not associated with the patrilineality as well as territoriality and with men's well-being and strength. Now they in away assume that they are dependent on the territory at the same time as long as the rumbim is attached to the soil to the ground they sort of evoke certain kind of a trust which is considered to be sanctified among the tsembaga community.

Now if you look at the operational rituals which is present among the tsembaga and other Maring that is the adjoining groups of people in a sense helps to maintained and undegraded environment how because what are the kind of checks and balances which stay normally and get into because they limits fighting to frequencies which do not endanger the existence of this regional population and also they adjust this man-land ratios which in a way facilitate trade, distributes local surpluses of pig throughout the regional population in the form of pork and assures people of high-quality protein when they are most in need of it.

Now therefore this operational ritual which is evident among the tsembaga and the maring innocence evokes certain kind of how a balance is maintained in the environment the kind of animals which are being slaughtered and again which I said I had a talk at quite discussed at length about the pig slaughters which was practice among the tsembaga in the proceeding Nexus.

Now Rappaport in a way postulates that the tsembaga ritual slaughter and this consumption of these pigs that is it is locally known as the kaiko function as a regulatory mechanism that keeps within the acceptable parameters in the size of the herd of Pigs. For example, the intake of animals as a protein and the amount of female labor needed to take care of them as well as of the gardens. So in a way the ritual cycled of the tsembaga is cyclically nature.

Now for instance they plan the rumbim and then also they start rearing the pigs. Now as and when they uproot the Rumbim there is some kind of war and then it is followed by a certain sacrificing or a slaughtering of the pigs once the war comes to an end. Now in a way these sort of practices are have certain kind of overlapping meanings and or rather every action is pretty much interrelated the manner in which they go to the war and then once they started engaging in this the kaiko that is the slaughtering of the pigs.

They again abandon this going to the waging war again so waging of war is not frequent at all and then maybe it is the sort of how they engage into more or less and exercise or drilling as and when they are prepared and as and when they feel that they have enough pigs for consumption then they go ahead with the war and then they retreat back come back and then go on with this festival serve.

Now through all these practices Rappaport primarily in his work of pigs for the ancestor shows that all the components of this tsembaga reality is nothing but it is sort of tries to bring in the relationship between the ecological, nutritional, social, military, ideological and which perhaps seems to constitute a coherent totality. Now all these put together in a way is again the part of the tsembaga ecosystems and how they are able to maintain certain kind of ritual behavior and this ritual behavior is not necessarily confined to only one single perspective but which encompasses all this putting to together that is the social, political, economic so and so forth.

Therefore Rappaport studies in a way provide a model for understanding the role of the ritual in creation and maintenance not just social solidarity like what Durkheim has talked about but also rather in maintaining the conditions within which human organisms can survive that is how through rituals they are able to maintain a conducive environment for to maintain this balance in the environment.

Now as we had discussed the importance of rituals and how rituals tends to play an important role not just only in shaping the minds but also ritual in a sense becomes an expressive and it also served the purpose to the community in terms of how they are able to maintain certain kinds of rules and regulations and they followed this and ritual cannot be seen in isolation. But also it has to be contextualized in the context of these ecology and the environment in general and what kind of purposes does it serve. Now to have a much more deeper understanding about Rappaport's or ritual in general in relationship to ecology one can refer Rappaport's work which again is reproduced in the one of his book and apart from this also we can refer Rappaport's work on pigs further and sister.

Now in the last lecture we had discussed quite at length about how ritual in a way becomes sort of a balancing act in terms of one's relations with or in one's adaptation with the ecology in general and then that is purely from the ecological approach to religion. Now slightly moving away from what we have discussed in this course or in this lecture series we would be looking at how religion in a way happens to occupy or religions is considered to be sort of an alternative methods or ways in resolving the environmental crisis which we are witnessing.

And as I had discussed in the introductory part of the course that we will also be looking at some of the contemporary geology or the religious philosophy which is to be in a way situate in the context of how and to what extent religion in a way shapes our mind, our perspective, our thinking, our imaginations and the way we perceive or look towards nature. Now therefore why is it that religion is supposedly considered to be an important tool or an important perspective in this present environmental crisis.

Now as I had said before going into details of some of the religions or the kind of religious philosophies which they have followed it is pertinent to discuss the background as to why religion in a way is considered to be important and in this context it is important to see how religion in a way has shaped our understanding or our conduct towards nature. Now normally if you look around the perception towards nature might be different from one society to another or mostly if you look at the western nonwestern society the kind of perceptions which they have to what the nature is also different and globally there is a lot of divide between North and South again how the northern countries and the southern countries perceive nature or what kind of relationship they share with nature.

Now therefore it is important to locate this human environmental relations by bringing in this perspective of religion in general and how has this the present environmental crisis challenge in a way challenge and transformed the modern theology and spiritual practices and in which particular modern theology or the spiritual practices get us to have much more meaningful understanding with nature or
which religious philosophy in a way sort of real teachings in a way bring human much more close to nature that will of course be the kind of the main gist of these lectures.

Now historically if you look at may be prior to the medieval period and so-called modern period, religions in all these successive generations has taught us to sort of perceive and to act on this human nature in terms of a particular human interests, beliefs and social structure. Now why is this human interest important again, now if you look at their different forms of materialism which is involves even in the study of from the anthropological perspective like vulgar materialism and so and so forth and it is sort of thinkers in away tries to bring in sort of the nuances and the differences among this materialism and why I am talking about materialism is because human interest normally is being guided by the idea of accumulation and to sort of squeeze or extract certain kind of profits from