Lightning Is the Devil Getting Whipped

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  He is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  His family is from Sudan and they are Muslim.  Both he and his twin brother were educated in international schools.  He speaks Arabic and English.


Context: I was talking with the informant about traditions and rituals his family has.


Item: “Any time there is thunder during a lightning storm, every time you see a lightning crack it is the Devil getting whipped.  I don’t know why that is or where it came from, it’s more a, ‘don’t get scared by lightning, it’s just the Devil getting whipped’ kind of thing’.  My mother is the one who always says it”.


Analysis: This is an instance of people assigning meaning to a physical phenomena that they cannot explain.  It makes sense that an older figure (the mother) is the one who says this, as it is meant to comfort the children by using familiar (and acceptable) imagery.  It also allows people to feel a sense of connection and intimacy with God, as, lightning is a common and natural phenomena and for God to appear that many times implies he is watching over everyone.