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Ancestor worship

Ancestor worship is a religious practice based on the belief that one's ancestors possess supernatural powers. All cultures attach ritual significance to the passing of loved ones, but this is not equivalent to ancestor worship. Rather, ancestor worship involves the same sort of religious practices one would expect to see when people appease or supplicate other entities with supernatural powers, such as gods, angels, saints, or demons. While far from universal, ancestor worship is a common theme in various distinct cultures at every level of cultural development, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times.

Ancestor worship in some cultures (such as Chinese) seeks only to honor the deeds, memories, and sacrifice of the deceased. Much of the worship includes offerings to the deceased to provide for their welfare in the after-life. For instance, a toothbrush, comb, towel, slippers , and water are provided by the coffin so that the deceased will be able to have these items after they have died. Spirit money is sometimes burned as an offering to ancestors as well. Often, individuals believe that their ancestors will return favors to those who worship them, such as saving them from near-death accidents, or guiding their path in life.

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Last updated: 12-15-2004 11:35:56