De'ang - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religion. The De'ang adopted Theravada Buddhism from the nearby Dai. Buddhist temples exist in most villages, and feeding the monks is the obligation of every household. The De'ang monks can write and read the Buddhist scriptures in Dai language. In addition, there is a lay specialist in every village who directs offering-making ceremonies and divines for villagers. The ultimate goal of Buddhism in De'ang society is to extricate oneself from suffering and enter otherworldly life after death through merits earned in this life. The De'ang have religious festivals similar to the Dai, such as the New Year, Closing the Door, Opening the Door, and so forth.

Death and Afterlife. Each village has a cemetery shared by all of the villagers. The normal form of burial is in a coffin in the ground, while only those who have died of "unnatural" causes (e.g., disease or accident) are cremated. In funeral rites the monk chants for the dead and releases the soul of the dead from purgatory, so that the soul will not harm people and livestock.

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