Ancestor Worship- India
Sudharam discussed this cultural celebration that is practiced to worship your ancestors. The ceremony involves a Neem tree which is prayed to and a portion of it is also consumed to cure jaundice and many other ailments. Great respect is shown to the tree because it represents the respect you show to the elders. While praying to the tree you take sunflower oil and put 22 dots on the tree and then you proceed to tie red thread around the twigs. Sudharam made it important to note that this is only done by women. He could not say if the number 22 had some secondary meeting but in general he feels this practice is for the well being of the ancestors.
Sudharam commented that when he was raised he had to show supreme reverence toward his elders, both living and dead. In his family the eldest people always were at the head of the family making the decisions guiding the family in the right direction. Ancestor worship is yet another form of that, as you pray to your relatives who have passed to watch over you and guide you along your path in life. Also the ancestor worship practiced was to ensure that those who have passed continue to have a good life in the after life.
I feel this practice displays a strong respect for the past. Clearly in this culture they believe in the power of their ancestors to play a part in their lives currently, hoping they may be able to benefit them in some way. It seems to me that ancestor worship is practiced because people fear the unknown and that which they can not control. So by praying to their ancestors to watch over them, they are trying to gain some control back. I feel that it is very odd that in the United States, elders do not get as much respect as they do in other countries. Perhaps that is because the U.S. is so oriented at looking at the future while other cultures place an emphasis on learning things from the past.