December 1, 2008
Religion- Trobriand Islands vs. Haiti
According to the Miller text book, religion is defined as beliefs and actions related to supernatural beings and forces. Religion is related to people’s way of understanding how the world came to existence. It is comprised of beliefs and behaviors. Religious beliefs are shared by a large group of people and are passed on through generations. Beliefs are expressed through myths and doctrines. A myth is a story about supernatural forces or beings. Myths are told in a narrative story structure. A doctrine is defined as a direct statement about religious beliefs. Doctrines explicitly define the idea of supernaturals, the world and how it came to be, and people’s roles in relation to supernaturals and to other humans (Miller 228).
Religion is also expressed through rituals. According to the Miller text book, a ritual is a patterned form of behavior that has to do with the supernatural realm. Anthropologists categorize rituals in several divisions. Periodic rituals are regularly performed ceremonies usually to celebrate a seasonal milestone. Life-cycle rituals are performed to celebrate the transition from one stage in an individual’s life to another. A ritual of inversion is a ritual where normal roles and order in society are temporary reversed. Functionalists believe that these rituals allow social pressure to be released (Miller 232).
Based on information gathered in Culture Sketches, the idea of dualism extends into Haitian life. Their two main religions are Catholicism, 90% of population, and Voudon, 100% of population. Roman Catholicism is the official religion in Haiti. The word “voodoo” is derived from a Dahomean word meaning “god.” An important function of the voudon religion is to provide a sense of unity among slaves brought from various tribes. Many similarities between voudon and Catholicism come from the need to placate missionaries and...