Fon Funeral

Fon Funerals

Relationships in a family and the community of the Fon People are examined during the time of death and at the funerals. At the funeral these relationships are both exposed and redefined according to the changes that death brings. Certain tasks and offerings are made people by the family and the communal work group to which the deseased belonged at the ceremony.

The "best friend" plays a significant role in the funeral. Unlike the American casual friendship, this is" a long, formalized, and idealized relationship among the Fon." At the funeral a work group member would sing the role of "best friend" asking "that something might be found to bring my friend to life." The Asen helps this desire to be fulliflled, helping the living keep their memories of the dead alive.

It is of great importance not to overlook any detail of the funeral; such an occurance would insult the dead, causing harm to the living decendants. Therefore a set of cermonies preceeds the actual burial and an orante funeral follows the actual burial. The second group of ceremonies occurs about a week after the funeral, involing offerings as well as a real or symbolic reburial. All the gifts are divided among the living, the dead, the priests, and members of the communal group. A major comemorative celebration is planned, lasting varias amounts of time, depending on the society. Again special care has to be taken not to offend the ancestor in the final event. At this event, the deceased is introduced to those already dead and the Asen is installed and dedicated with more gifts and offerings.(Freyer)

Above is a picture of a shrine house where many asen stand as reminders of those who have passed away. At these houses the spirits are spoken to and honored by the living. Sacrifices are often given here.Click on the image to get a better look at these asen.