From Physically Dead to Culturally Dead

By: Giorgio Scalici  

The death of a community member, friend or relative is always a critical moment for the Wana people of Morowali, Central Sulawesi. It breaks the delicate balance inside the community and it casts a shadow of insignificancy on life. To avoid being overwhelmed by the emotional wave caused by an unexpected loss and to retrieve the balance, Wana people separate the day of the physical death from the day when the community will ritually declare the death of the person. Between these two events, Wana follow a series of small and big rituals that guide them and control their emotion until the day of the funeral, when all the community will come together to sing the path to heaven to the deceased’s soul and to state that Wana will continue to live. By examining the two night long funeral, called kayori, I describe and analyze the process by which Wana transform a negative event in a playful moment that express what Wana call kasintuwu (mutual support). Data have been collected during two fieldworks conducted in 2011 and 2016 and are part of a bigger study on Wana rituality and emotional world. In this paper, we will see how Wana use religion, rituality and music to control, lead and shape their emotion and cope with death not as single person but as a community, to do that this paper describes and analyze the grieving rituality of Wana people before, during and after the kayori.

Death, Community, Liminality
Religious Foundations
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Giorgio Scalici

PhD student, Theology and Religion, Durham University, United Kingdom
United Kingdom