USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘bonding’
general

Ghost Hauntings in India

BACKGROUND:

An individual in Los Gatos, California recounts her familial folk belief in ghosts while living in India. According to her, when a family member passes, the whole extended family sleeps in one room for about a week after the passing due to the fear of the ghost of the departed returning to haunt individual family members. She tells a family legend of her grandfather’s experience with ghosts. According to him, when his mother passed the family all slept in the same room as per their beliefs. While sleeping, with a gust of wind, the door opened and the ghost of his mother appeared before her widowed husband. When the father saw her, other family members awoke, screamed, and the ghost fled from the house.

INTERVIEW:

My interview with my source, A, went as follows:

ME: Could you tell me about what the beliefs are towards ghosts in India?

A: So when someone passes away they’re always afraid that the ghost is going to return. So they would all sleep in the same room for the first, you know, week after the death.

ME: Was there ever an instance in which a ghost returned?

A: When my grandfather was 8 years old… his mother died. So they’re all sleeping in the same room and they said one of the doors opened, there was a gust of wind, and she came in. She came in to see my grandfather. And my grandfather saw her, and she… like other family members woke up and saw her, they screamed, and she ran away.

ME: Did she ever come back?

A: I don’t know, I just know she visited them that one time.

MY THOUGHTS:

I find it interesting that this belief and fear of returning spirits is fended off not via a religious figure, but through the bond and support of family. While the recounted legend is quite compelling, I’m more interested in the bonding experience this belief provides for the family. The passing of a loved one is an extremely traumatic experience. The idea that the only way to prevent a spirit from returning is through the family banding together is a good way to help cope with the depression of losing a family member.

Customs
Game

Weekly Horror Game Nights

“My roommates Lane and Brendan, and also our friend Andrew who doesn’t live with us but is around sometimes, we have a tradition of having horror game nights where we all get together late at night – recently, we’ve done it with cake that says like, ‘Happy Horror Game Night!’ – and we’ll sit around, and turn all of the lights off, and play a horror video game. It’s a terrible idea because all of us get scared very easily and none of us like horror games, so we just we don’t really enjoy it. It’s fun because it can sometimes be fun to get scared, but none of us like being scared. I especially don’t like being scared. We’ll sometimes switch off who plays but usually it’s Brendan or Andrew because I get too scared and Lane gets headaches and stuff, so they will play the game and we’ll all watch, and do the story and stuff, and freak out, and then take breaks, and turn the lights on, and eat cake, and turn them off again, and then I’ll say, ‘let’s stop.’ Everyone will say, ‘No, let’s keep going!’ and I’ll say, ‘Ok!’ and then we’ll all cuddle on the couch together in fear and horror.”

Background Information and Context:

“It’s a bonding experience being of afraid together, and it’s how we became friends in the first place, which is why we continue to do it. The very first time we all were in the same place at the same time, we were all at Brendan’s place and we had just gotten this game called PT, which we later found out stood for Playable Trailer because it’s a playable trailer for a game called, like, Silent Hill. The trailer was super scary, and it was basically like this hallway that you kept going round and round and round, and you kept circling back, and things kept happening, and it was super duper scary. He had gotten that, and we were playing it together even though we didn’t really know each other. It was in Webb Tower, and we sat this couch together and, like, all the lights are off, and we are playing it for some whatever ridiculous reason, and at one point there’s this ghost lady, and she looked popped out of nowhere, and literally all of us let out bloodcurdling screams. And no one came to check on us! We were in Webb Tower, there is an RA in that building,  I’m sorry it was very clearly not like we’re having a good time screams! It was screams of terror!”

Collector’s Notes:

This anecdote offers insight into the reasons people willingly engage in activities that are not enjoyable. I, personally, never watch horror movies or play horror movies, but many people, like the informant and her friends, engage in the genre frequently. For some, the adrenaline rush, itself, is an exciting and enjoyable experience. For the informant and her friends, being scared is a social experience. They are afraid, but they are doing it together in solidarity even though none of them enjoy the fear, itself. The tradition is also symbolic, reminding them of how they became friends as they experience this shared experience each week. I think stories of being scared also make great, exciting stories, and telling those stories can be a rewarding social experience.

Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Monthly Debates

The Main Piece
Growing up Nile became accustomed to having the tradition of monthly debates with her neighboring community. Around four to five families would meet at one house, but “honestly, everyone was invited to come join and debate. Even children!” They would have debates on religion, world problems, anything making the news. Although some topics could be considered explicit they still allowed children to sit in because the parent’s felt it was necessary for them to be informed on what was going on in the world, despite how graphic or cruel it could be. Nile also added that they usually do not go into too much detail with explicit topics until later, when the children have gotten bored and leave the room to do other things. Everyone is able to contribute their own ideas and opinions, these debates would often go until two or three in the morning.
Background Information
My informant is Nile Jones, a current undergraduate and close friend of mine at USC. She enjoys having these monthly debates because it allowed her to keep updated on what is going on in the world. It also pushed everyone to look into certain topics more because if one was asked their opinion on a certain topic, but did not have anything to contribute they would feel embarrassed. She participated in this tradition since she was six years old. It started because whenever her family would throw parties. Many times families would spend the night and they wanted to be entertained. The Jones’ clever way of keeping their guests awake and interested would be opening up these debates. Thereby, it became a tradition in which many were involved in. Her grandmother was the first one to suggest it and it has been continued ever since.
Context
Nile told me about this tradition as we were eating dinner together one night. I asked her about any stories she had of home and she remembered having wild debates with her family members back home in Georgia. She says that compared to home, life at USC is not as hectic.
Personal Thoughts
Hearing about Nile’s monthly debates warmed my heart. It made me wish that my family had more parties and celebrations, gathering together others from our community. I often felt disconnected from our other neighbors because my brother and I would always be indoors. Having these types of debates would have allowed us or any family to open up to a larger group. However, it made me wonder if these types of debates ever caused problems between the debaters, if their pride ever got in the way of their friendship and good sportsmanship. When I asked Nile this, she simply replied that “everyone knows to keep their cool.” Overall I think this tradition is great and hope to be able to implement it in my family in the future.

Narrative

Gloria I

You can talk to G about this, and M.I. and M. So, first or second year of the co-op, so like 2007, 2008, N lived at the co-op and we were at the old house on orchard street back then. And um, there were a lot…well, there were a lot of people sleeping with each other in the house. (laughs) Not like that’s strange or anything, but umm, there was constantly this joke about how given that so many people are sleeping with each other in the house, why don’t we just have an orgy? Since that’s an experience we all seem to want to have. And N coined the name ‘Gloria’ as like the name of the orgy. So in her mind she was thinking like we’re gonna have this orgy and it’s gonna be epic and all these people from the house are gonna be in it and it’s gonna go down in history and we’re going to call it Gloria. So that was like 2008. Now it’s 2012. And there have been two…people refer to them as Gloria I and Gloria II. Neither of them were like what people think of when they think of an orgy- a sexual orgy. Yeah, I wasn’t really part of Gloria II, but Gloria I is alternatively called The Acid Orgy. Um, and yeah, that was the one where like 15 to 20 people ate acid and we ended up in that one room just like lying on top of each other listening to Air… for like twenty hours. We weren’t actually in that room for twenty hours, but we all tripped for a really long time. But yeah, it’s interesting the way people use the word orgy, because usually you think of orgy as like four plus people having sex. And I think what we realized that night – cause we realized it was Gloria I, at the time it was just Gloria – that night, and called it that that night. We realized that instead of four plus people having sex and bonding in a sexual way, it was a whole bunch of people bonding in the way that people bond with each other when they feel comfortable tripping on acid together, which is like it’s own little bonding thing. So that’s why we called it Gloria. (laughs) But yeah, you should ask G about it too.

 

This is a piece of group lore that the members of that group reflect on fondly and I’ve heard variations on the story from numerous people who have told it to people outside of the group. Without intending to, the experience redefined a term that usually has taboo connotations that make people uncomfortable. Instead, it was a deep bonding experience within a community. Also, I shortened names to the first letter or first two letters for the sake of privacy.

 

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