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Memorial service: A means of communication with the dead

DOI: 10.2298/gei0553291i

Keywords: memorial service , communication , rituals , ritual objects

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Abstract:

A specific relationship toward the dead characterizes the traditional Serbian culture; this cult exists even today, in somewhat changed form. A death is always followed by the appropriate, traditional, ritual obligations that served to regulate behavior of a family, or even wider community members that has lost one of its members. The relationship with the dead does not cease after the funeral, but it continues to be maintained during general holidays dedicated to the dead-memorial service. These are the days dedicated to all dead, and when offerings were made especially for the deceased. The memorial services take place in particular days of the year: most often on Saturdays, on Saturdays before another holiday, the Spirits, and on Saturdays before the holiday Mitrovdan; memorial services are also connected with some other holidays during the year. In addition to the general memorial service dedicated to all dead, there are so-called special memorial services, which take place only in special occasions (on holidays like Petrovdan, Saint Ilija, Velika Gospojina, Trojice and more). Many different rituals performed during memorial services, as well as ritual objects used should provide the deceased with a safe residence in their new environment. The most important rituals that enabled the communication with the dead include: preparing and sharing food and drinks, visits to a cemetery, lighting candles, incense of graves, vine spilling, decoration with flowers and basilica. The most important ritual objects are: graves, food, drinks, candles, incense, vine, flowers and basilica.

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