Wamira - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs. Indigenous religious tenets are rooted in animism and beliefs in spirits and spiritlike beings. These spirits reside in numerous forms: human beings, plants, animals, rocks, rivers, etc. Since contact and exposure to the Anglican mission, many Wamirans have become Christian. They are now baptized, take Christian names, and regularly go to church in the village or at the mission station. The two types of beliefs, animism and Christianity, today exist side by side.

Religious Practitioners. Traditional village healers perform magic to help the sick, bring rain, and entice taro to grow. Black magic is practiced in the form of sorcery and witchcraft. Men perform sorcery against one another, usually in their taro gardens. Women practice witchcraft, usually aiming it at members of their own matrilineage such as Siblings or children.

Ceremonies. Feasts are held to celebrate marriages, deaths, and various stages of the cultivation of taro. Nowadays, celebrations for club birthdays (women's clubs, men's clubs, boys' clubs, etc.) are also common.

Arts. In the past, utilitarian objects, such as wooden bowls, coconut-shell drinking cups, lime spatulas, and drums, were embellished with carvings. The figures flanking the aqueduct are elaborately carved and decorated with shells. Wamirans engage in competitive dancing and perform buffoonery.

Medicine. Traditional medicines were made from plants. Many villagers go to St. Barnabas Hospital at Dogura for medications. The most common illness for which medicine is sought is malaria. Other commonly occurring illnesses are respiratory infections and infected wounds.

Death and Afterlife. Wamirans believe that upon death the human soul is released, crosses a body of water, and becomes a spirit of the dead. Initially, these spirits roam the Village, but ultimately they depart to special places of the dead. They return to advise and haunt the living, chastising errant kin by bringing misfortune, illness, and even death upon them. Death is usually believed to be the result of supernatural causes.

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