Luhya Burial Rituals versus Biblical View of Life after Death: Finding a Balance
The Luhya traditional burial rituals were complex, and involved several people and many activities. Death was understood to have been caused by sorcery, curse, witchcraft or other similar forces. To ward off death therefore, the Luhya prescribed rituals that were to be performed by all. The arrival of Christianity in early 20th century resulted in silent conflict between Luhya culture and Christianity. The problem has been that majority of Christians practice both Christian faith and cultural burial rituals; compromising their faith, and weakening the church. The clergy who have been trained in theology, and who understand Luhya culture have been conducting their ministries variously. This study sought to find out how those pastors managed to remain true to their faith, and maintain family bonds. The central question in this paper was: How has Biblical understanding shaped Luhya Christian leaders’ perception of how burial practices should be conducted? This study found that the underlying assumption dictating how Luhyas practice rituals include aspects such as the sharing of sorrow and the respect for the dead. The Luhya clergy practice their activities towards burial rituals in three different ways: confrontation, selective participation, and developing a complete Luhya Christian theology. This paper suggests that modern theologians need to come up with a well-developed African Christian theology that can help address these burial rituals, in a way that is biblical and relevant to the African context.
Key Words: Rituals, burial theology, ceremony, wife, husband, grave, community, Luhya