The Catholic funeral ceremonies: expression of traditions and religiosity (Kupiškis area, from the second half of the 20th c. to the start-21st c.)

Rimutė Garnevičiūtė

Based on ethnographic material collected in the area of Kupiškis and records done by previous authors, the customs of Catholic funerals and expression of religiosity during the ceremonies in this area are analysed. The investigation done show that cultural and economic conditions in the country determine the forms of funeral customs. The services provided by enterprises are close to the traditional ones, but they are also affected by market conditions with demand often being caused by the offer. In case of traditional culture, the main dimension of the funeral is the relations, which the family and kindred of different generations, as well as local and parish community members have kept with the deceased. The overall relation to the God secures quality of all other relations. Paid services of funeral disturbed the network of the relations with a prominent tendency for funeral to become an event in a closed circle of family, kindred and friends. It is interesting to note that, as the funeral space is moved to rented premises, there is a new tradition to stop at the home of the deceased, thus expressing his relation with his former living site. An important role in Catholic funeral is plaid by religious expression. When a person dies or is being laid out, the sacramentals are used based on church prayers; and these elements remained up to now. The main alteration is that, as a request to pray is removed from the verbal formula of invitation to the funeral, the understanding of death-watch time purpose also changed – the prayer is not the main action of the funeral. This alteration occurred due to secularisation that caused a crisis in Catholic identity. Singing of the rosary of Holy Name of Jesus in Kupiškis area is an important practice of devotion at the funeral (previously, also during commemoration of the dead). A unique practice of devotion in this area is singing of 129 psalms praying for the deceased and his dead kindred. Kupiškis people like to use a song book “Giesmės giedamos už mirusius” (Songs sung for the deceased) that is a collection of folk songs recommended by the Church.

The analysis of religious expression allows to make a conclusion that folk devotion at the funeral has been formed by the principles of Catholic faith; moreover, live folk religiosity expressions are fixed, i.e., belief in presence of the souls at the dead body and understanding of the deceased and his soul as an undivided entity. An older action of religiosity – the alms for the – disappeared.