Tag Archives: sacrifice

Sacrifice for Deceased Osage Children

Tags: Osage, Ozarks, Funeral Custom, Sacrifice


For the Osage, whenever there’s a death of a child/baby, dogs will be used in ceremonial practices as a sacrifice.

Informant Info

Race/Ethnicity: Indian

Age: 22

Occupation: College Student

Residence: Northwest Arkansas, USA

Date of Performance: March 2024

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): N/A

Relationship: Friend


AH, the informant, is of Indian descent. Her father practices Hinduism and speaks Tulu. He has been a very influential figure in her upbringing. She also studies indigenous peoples and their customs as a Sustainability major.


This act of sacrifice is meant to represent the similar innocence of little dogs and babies. It is also done as a means to give the child/baby companionship in the afterlife.

Nat Sain Legend

Nationality: Burmese

Primary Language: Burmese

Other Language(s): English, Chinese

Age: 19

Occupation: Student

Residence: Hanover, N.H

Performance Date: 03/17/2024

P.P has been my friend since middle school and is also a Burmese person who is originally from Yangon, Myanmar. When I asked her of any legends, myths or tales she knows of, she recounts a known legend about people who died really unfortunate deaths becoming spirits. Her housekeeper told her this story since she is from the rural areas of Myanmar where a lot of these myths are considered true. Back home, it was common for most households to have housekeepers and so the relationships between housekeepers and the children of the house was usually one that was really familial and close knit. 

“Nat Sain are spirits who, before they died, were good and kind people but were killed off in really unfortunate ways. Because of this, Nat Sain are known to be full of vengeance and malicious intent. In this one story, the village is trying to build a bridge but the bridge keeps tumbling and falling apart no matter how hard they try to repair it. The people of the town believed in mythical spirits so they thought that if they found someone that matched a certain requirement for a specific birthday, age, day of the week they were born, then they should sacrifice that person so that the bridge can work. There is this woman who had a husband that worked on the construction site near the bridge. She always brought him food everyday and was friendly to everyone and fed them her food as well. One day she started to converse with someone near the bridge and they started asking her questions about her birthday and realized that she matched all the sacrifice’s requirements perfectly. The next day, people captured her, wrapped her in a sleeping mat, and dug a hole where the bridge’s support is supposed to be, and buried her alive. They end up building a bridge on top of it. My housekeeper said this was a myth for a real bridge in her village so people would always worship or say prayers for that Nat Sain whenever they cross the bridge so that they can cross it safely. Honestly I think my housekeeper was just trying to scare me and tell me an entertaining bedtime story before I went to bed for her own entertainment ahaha. I still think it’s a real story but, I don’t think there’s another meaning behind the story other than just focusing on the Nat Sain’s background. Maybe the legend’s intent was to make sure people respect the spirits since they have their own history and can be dangerous to others if people come to their area/sacred place.”

After hearing this story, I was pretty terrified to say the least. I interpret this legend as a spiritual tale in Buddhism or Burmese folklore, that was used to scare people with the purpose of spiritual or religious reinforcement. These stories are scary yet believable enough to ensure people don’t stray away from religion since it implies that there are many mythical figures out there that could harm you if you are sinful. I think this story mainly serves to explain why the bridge didn’t work previously. By creating a story, it provided answers while making sure people prayed and was careful when crossing the bridge.

Ekelavya and Guru Dronacharaya


This is a side story in the Mahabharatha. There was a young boy named Ekelavya who couldn’t be trained in the bow and arrow while growing up because his parents were too poor to hire a teacher for him. However, he found the 5 main brothers being trained by a great teacher, Guru Dronacharaya. Day after day, Ekelavya watched from some nearby woods as Guru Dronacharaya trained the five, one of them, by the name of Arjuna, growing to be known as the best archer ever. Arjuna was Guru Dronacharaya’s pride and joy as his best pupil ever. 

Meanwhile, in the woods, Ekelavya had a great respect for Guru Dronacharaya. He built a statue of Guru Dronacharaya and began training in the woods in front of it, pretending that he was being trained by the guru himself. Ekelavya grew very skillful at archery this way. One day, Guru Dronacharaya was passing through the woods when he came upon the statue in his likeness, along with Ekelavya. After observing Ekelavya’s archery for a bit, he realized that this boy was leagues better at archery than Arjuna. Guru Dronacharaya approached Ekelavya and asked how he had become so good at archery. The boy told him that he had watched the Guru training the five brothers and practiced on his own in the woods. 

Guru Dronacharaya wanted to protect his pupil Arjuna’s status as the best archer ever, so he asked for Ekelavya’s right thumb as his gurudakshina. This way, Ekelavya would be unable to draw back a bow. Because of his great devotion to his teacher, Ekelavya complied and cut off his right thumb to give to Guru Dronacharaya. 


This story is from the Mahabharatha, and is a plot point in the main storyline. An extremely simplified synopsis of the Mahabharatha is that it’s about the war between 5 brothers and 100 of their other brothers (Note that brother and cousin are essentially synonymous in this context). The “good guys” are the 5 brothers, and they eventually end up winning the war. 

During these times, archery was seen as the most stylish and elegant form of combat, and thus was highly respected. All nobles were trained in it. 

A gurudakshina was paid to a teacher after your time training with him comes to a close, and the guru could ask you for pretty much anything and you had to pay it. In this specific case, however, Ekelavya only really pays the gurudakshina out of respect for and devotion to Guru Dronacharaya, as there was no formal training or contract of any sort between them. 

The interviewee feels that this story resonates especially deeply with him because it shows that sometimes the world isn’t fair and people can just get in your way despite you doing everything correctly. Ekelavya works the hardest of any character described, and yet gets pushed to the side merely because he wasn’t born into nobility. It’s about realism. 

This story isn’t one that is told to younger children, as it kills their hope by teaching them that they can do everything but still not reach their goal because others get in their way, or things don’t go in their favor. Some families don’t tell their children this story at all because of the cynical way that it describes this world. 


In addition to the life lesson my interviewee notices, I think this story promotes respecting authority and tradition, seen by Ekelavya’s decision to pay the requested gurudakshina, despite it costing him greatly. The authority that is placed inherently in that culture’s nobility is also respected, as Ekelavya doesn’t question his place as separate from the other boys, opting to train from afar instead of asking to join their sessions or something of that nature. It puts an interesting emphasis on hard work. The hard work still pays off, as Ekelavya becomes better than the best archer ever, but he gives up his reward/possible reputation after all the hard work out of devotion. There is also a selfless element to this story, as he is thinking more about what’s good for Guru Dronocharaya than what is good for himself.

Hex Chicken

L is 54. He was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was in the Army in his 20s and now works in private personal security. He studied theology in college. He told me this story about his Haitian great grandmother in person.

“My great grandma Hattie, on my dad’s side, um… she used to practice a form of Haitian voodoo like if she disliked someone in the community… they lived in Turle, Arkansas… she would take chickens and drain their blood and bury the chicken head and curse you, like in the yard and if she wanted you to change your behavior she would do this ritual… mind you we ate the chicken after she used it for the ritual. We called it voodoo… we hardly understood what she said because she had a heavy accent and I didn’t spend a whole lotta time with her because there’s not a lot to do in Turle, Arkansas. She came from Haiti in the 1930s or something and married my great grandfather in Arkansas… they were sharecroppers… so yea… if she had an issue with you she would perform her hex.”

Ritual sacrifice is common in Voodoo and other religions. Cooking and eating the sacrificed animal is also a common practice. For more information on Voodoo with a focus on how the religion has been misconstrued and misrepresented, particularly by Western Media, see FERÈRE, GÉRARD A. “HAITIAN VOODOO: ITS TRUE FACE.” Caribbean Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 3/4, 1978, pp. 37–47, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40793401. Accessed 25 Apr. 2022.

Aztec Creation Story of the Sun

Background: The informant is a 19 year old girl who is currently a college student in Chicago, Illinois. She was also born and raised in the city. Her father is Mexican-American and she also grew up with aunts and uncles to pass on traditions.

Context: The informant mentioned hearing about it when she was younger, but she relearned the myth in detail when she took a Latin American Studies class  at her college last year.


“So, from what I remember, this is the Aztec creation story of the Fifth Sun. So, with the Aztec, there’s a bunch of different gods and, like, their story involves different suns – like in the sky, not a boy. Their suns are the five different births of the world, so to speak. There’s birth, death, and that’s all I can remember as of right now but anyways, –all the gods were kinda standing around the fire that created the light of Earth, and they were trying to keep going. And this fire was dying out. These gods were like ‘what can we do?’

“And, I believe the different gods offered little things they were associated with. Like, one was associated with nature and would offer flowers. It didn’t really work in terms of the fire. They were like ‘hm, okay, this is a bit of a problem.’ Eventually, there were two gods. I forgot their names, but what’s important is what they represented. One was associated with frail and sickness. And the other was associated with richness and wealth. He was abundance and gold and luxury. 

“And, so these two very different gods were like… ‘I’m gonna go and sacrifice myself into the fire.’ For about a week of time, they prepared themselves for the fire. But, what happened was, when preparing themselves, they were thinking, well only one of them can do it.

“Then, When it came down to it to throw themselves in the fire, the god associated with luxury was like “Yeah! I’ll go” and then when he ran towards the fire, he went “Psyche!” and didn’t go into the fire. So, the other one, who was running right after him to go second, went into the fire, but there was no change in the fire. But, his courage and bravery was applauded by all the other gods who were watching. So, then, all the other gods sacrifice themselves into the fire. Which is how the sun was able to keep going.”


Informant: She finds the information particularly interesting because the Aztecs hail from Latin America, and are commonly disregarded as a great civilization. She has retained the myth in her head since taking the class, and has shared it with others, revealing how she thinks the information is worth sharing and knowing.

Mine: It’s always exciting when creation stories are retold through modern lenses because it gives a new perspective on it. Hearing the gods talk in casual terms, or the one deity yells “psych!” would never be something heard in the past, but perfectly conveys the same meaning – that the god was trying to trick the other one into sacrificing first. Finding other examples of the story online, another variation of the myth is how it created the sun and moon from the two gods who jumped in. They both deal very similarly, until the last message of how something was created, and they both have slightly indifferent tones to them. In the one performed by the informant, it holds a tragic, yet content, element in how all the Gods sacrificed themselves to keep the sun and life alive. In the second one, it seems like more a lighthearted story, where God wasn’t trying to trick the other but simply hesitated in fright. As Chicago is very far away from the Mexican border, it may reflect how the myth has changed over time to reflect a new telling.