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Encyclopedia > Ancestor veneration

Ancestor worship, also ancestor veneration, is a religious practice based on the belief that one's ancestors possess supernatural powers. All cultures attach ritual significance to the passing of loved ones, but this is not equivalent to ancestor worship. Rather, ancestor worship involves the same sort of religious practices one sees when people appease or supplicate other entities thought to exist and possess supernatural powers, such as gods, angels, saints, or demons. While far from universal, ancestor worship or ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times.


Ancestor worship in some cultures (such as Chinese) seeks only to honor the deeds, memories, and sacrifice of the deceased. Much of the worship includes offerings to the deceased to provide for their welfare in the afterlife. For instance, a toothbrush, comb, towel, slippers, and water are provided by the coffin so that the deceased will be able to have these items after they have died. Spirit money is sometimes burned as an offering to ancestors as well. Often, individuals believe that their ancestors will return favors to those who worship them, such as saving them from near-death accidents, or guiding their path in life.


It is in that sense that "ancestor veneration" may convey a more accurate sense of what practitioners see themselves as doing. For example, as "worship" in a Christian context is reserved for the Trinity, a Christian who is unfamiliar with the actual practices and beliefs involved in ancestor-directed rites may mistakenly assume that those who "practice" "ancestor worship" attribute to the ancestors everything that a Christian attributes to the Trinity: creation of the world, omnipotence, a different class of being, etc. If one asked a Japanese person if they thought their ancestors were all-powerful or had created the world, the person would probably laugh. "Ancestorhood" is a state of being that everyone can attain upon death, so an ancestor is not fundamentally different in the way a deity is.




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Ancestor worship Summary (1874 words)
Depending on the local culture, this worship or veneration may combine elements of filial piety, agricultural traditions and seasonal observances, lineage patterns, animistic concepts of the actions of spirits in the world of the living, an emphasis on obligations to superiors, and the idea that human beings become deities at death.
The spirits of the ancestors are believed to be pleased by any positive accomplishment by a descendant, and announcements of such achievements before the memorial tablets on the altar or at the grave are considered important.
Ancestor worship (拜祖), also ancestor veneration (敬祖), is a religious practice based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living.
Ancestor worship - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (308 words)
Ancestor worship (拜祖), also ancestor veneration (敬祖), is a religious practice based on the belief that one's ancestors possess supernatural powers.
While far from universal, ancestor worship or ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and technological complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times.
Ancestor worship in some cultures (such as Chinese) seeks only to honor the deeds, memories, and sacrifice of the deceased.
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