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A comparative ethnography of rituals and worship among Hindus and Zulus in South Africa with special reference to death rituals and ancestor veneration.

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This study examines the similarities and differences between the historical background and the current performance of Hindu and Zulu funerals and associated ceremonies. After presenting an account of the historical development of the Hindu and Zulu communities in South Africa, a chronological account of the performance of each of these funeral ceremonies are presented. This account includes a detailed description of the rituals performed when a person is on his/her death bed, the actual funeral ceremonies and the post death rituals and ceremonies associated with ancestor veneration. The incidence and significance of The Anthropology of Geste and Rhythm in each of these ceremonies are demonstrated according to the theory of Marcel Jousse. The Hindu and Zulu ceremonies are then analysed and interpreted to demonstrate an individuals life crises which Van Gennep called the "Rites of Passage" and distinguishes three phases: separation, transition, and incorporation. The discussion accounts for the transmission of traditions over generations, and which demonstrate the anthropological and psychobiological nature of memory, understanding and expression as evident in the performance of Hindu and Zulu funerals and ceremonies and the manner in which the ancestors are venerated in South Africa. The research was undertaken mainly in Kwa-Zulu Natal. However to fill research gaps in the Hindu investigation a study was undertaken in some parts ofIndia as part of the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Programme.


Thesis (Ph.D.) - University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2007.


Zulu (African people)--Funeral customs and rites., Tamil (Indic people)--Funeral customs and rites., Ancestor worship--KwaZulu-Natal., Theses--IsiZulu.