Endenese - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs. A "supreme being" or "god" in Ende is called nggaë. Nggaë is, however, seldom invoked. In everyday life, the people are more intimate with the ancestors (' embu kajo ) and spirits ( nitu ). They are invoked in the prayers at any agricultural ritual and are asked to bring a good harvest. Witches ( porho ) are believed to live among the ordinary people. They are believed to do harm to people upon the slightest excuse.

Religious Practitioners. A person who falls ill and decides that the illness is caused by a witch's attack sometimes seeks a famous practitioner (' ata marhi ). These practitioners are ordinary people who are known to have some special knowledge; no specialization is involved.

Ceremonies. The yearly agricultural activities are marked at both the beginning and end by a communal ritual of yam eating ( kaa 'uwi ). This yam ritual is held once a year by each village. The order in which participating villages do this remains the same every year.

Arts. In marriage ceremonies and funerals (and occasionally at kaa 'uwi) people dance a traditional dance called gawi naro. Spontaneous songs are "ad-libbed" by a singer at the center of the circle of dancers.

Medicine. Traditional medicines are called wunu kaju, literally "leaves of trees." There are two kinds of medicine: those used by practitioners ('ata marhi), which need esoteric spells, and those that do not. Only occasionally do people go to the coast or the town of Endeh to get modern medicines.


Death and Afterlife. At a funeral, a set of valuables called 'urhu (head) should be given to the brother of the mother of the deceased. He is the first to dig the grave for the corpse. The deceased is believed to go to Mount Iya, near the town of Endeh. No elaborate myth or legend is narrated as to the origin of death or of the afterlife on Mount Iya.

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