Customs and beliefs differ from one community to another. This is marked by the various practices undertaken and deemed to hold so much meaning in the succession of generation. However, some of these practices are inhuman and tend to violate human rights despite being given so much weight in the society.
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Shirley Jackson wrote the short story The Lottery to depict the malice of traditional rituals which are being practiced in the world. This was first published on 26th June, 1948. The release of this edition received mixed reactions from readers in the American market who sent warning mails to Shirley. She portrays the continuity of cultural beliefs from one generation to the next irrespective of the comprehension of the meaning of such rituals.
The plot covers a community which for a long time has valued the Lottery as an avenue to appease their gods. It serves to atone for the sins committed by the community in order to maintain plentiful harvest. A member of the community is stoned to death as a sacrifice for the rest of the community. The stones used in this process are gathered by the children who also participate in the Lottery and risk death in case they pick the black-spotted paper. No one is allowed to unfold the paper until every member has picked.
In this small village of about 300 residents, Bill Hutchinson, as the head of the family, picks the slip with the black spot hence selects his family. All the members then pick a second round of papers which makes his wife Tessie to be the victim despite coming late for the occasion. Mr. Bill instead of pleading for the wife shows her spotted paper publicly and even participates in her stoning to death. This is a turbulent atmosphere with tension throughout the scene.
The villagers then proceed to eat their meals after the stoning as if nothing had happened. Bill Jr. and Nancy his sister laugh when they pick blank slots even though they know one of their parents is the victim of circumstances. These are quite ironical of the norms expected in the community. Our societies have held many customs which seem outdated but are still being carried out to fulfill the routines. The culture of wife inheritance is still being practiced by some communities in the world. It follows the death of a man in the society where the wife is taken over by the brothers of the deceased. In case the wife dies after the husband before being inherited, a man would be paid to have sex with her corpse. This practice predisposes to sexually transmitted diseases.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) entails the chopping-off of the clitoris of a girl by specialists in some communities. Other Islamic tribes also practice the stitching of the vulva of girls leaving only a small opening for urination in the attempt to maintain their virginity until marriage after which the stitches are removed. Such are traumatic to the female gender.
In other communities, first born males are always offered as sacrifice on a yearly basis. This is on the attempt to appease the ancestral spirits. The community members then enjoy a meal of these children after being slaughtered. Some societies do not bury their dead but instead organize a feast where they feed on their corpses. They argue that it strengthens the unity in the community.
Such cultural practices having been practiced in the past deserve to be phased out with the advent of technology. They are still valued despite the repercussions related to them. Some are chauvinistic and should be abolished in the society. Governments thus should intervene to curb the practices.
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