2020 Semester 2

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5 replies
  1. Emily-B
    Emily-B says:

    I have never attended a community funeral however had some knowledge of the extended mourning and cultural practices around these. But I am still learning so much, I had no idea the deep connection one had to the music and performance at ones funeral, as I knew it was connected to them but didn’t realise how unique each sing was to a person. I also didn’t realise that many clans perform at ones funeral. However this does seem to connect and show the respect one has to all the people they touched in their lifetime. and how it is coordinated with the family to perform at different stages. I also found it very interesting that the living may not entirely understand the words in the song but they are singing it for the ancestors too, and they do understand it as they have passed it down from generation to generation.

  2. Andrea-P
    Andrea-P says:

    I read Brown’s (2014) article with interest and it took me back to one of the funerals I attended last year at Mammadawarre, an outstation about one (1) hour from Gunbalanya. It was the most amazing experience to be involved in the connection with one another, the connection with the country of the woman who was being laid to rest and to the music. Along with my bininj family, white and yellow ochre paint was applied to my legs. I was fortunate to be involved in the local Gunbalanya Church and sang with the other women at the funeral which also involved a great deal of wailing and a team effort in burying associated items with the woman who had passed away. Different family members had different responsibilities and paying respects at the gravesite was very structured with different clan and immediate family groups stepping forward to the grave site, adding flowers, shedding tears and then retreating to let the next people through. Prior to the burial there was a good deal of dancing and music by one of the clan groups. The dancers had travelled a considerable distance to be there. The music was played by a mobile phone through speakers but the dancing was traditional and very beautiful. The dancers continued all day as a steady stream of well wishers travelled into a shelter to pay their respects prior to the burial. The day also involved food, swimming and climbing up mango trees. It was not a sombre event until the actual burial. It was joyous and brought many people together. I attended other funerals and seen the bereaved wailing and screaming as their loved one is buried. All of the funerals have been quite different. The Mammadawarre one stands out as special to me and I think that it is related to being on country rather than in the Community; and the logistics of accommodating and feeding hundreds of people that had a profound effect on me. So much respect was shown for the woman who had passed approximately one year earlier. Like the funeral described by Brown (2014), the funeral could not occur until the dry season had progressed sufficiently for travel to the Outstation. Attending this and other funerals has been an enormous privelege and given me added insight into bininj culture.

    • Kellie-D
      Kellie-D says:

      Oh Andrea, I loved reading your entry this week. You’re right, it is such a priveledge and so incredibly moving. I had only ever attended funerals in Gunbalanya, not an outstation. I can only imagine the logistical challenge that would have been for the Bininj family involved. How incredible is it how they organise themselves in the appropriate clan groups and just like clockwork, they know when they need to step forward, what dance to do and what song to sing. Such an incredible part of their culture.

  3. Kellie-D
    Kellie-D says:

    This article brought back some very special memories from my days in Gunbalanya. I am truly privileged to have attended a few funerals of Bininj that I cared for. What I will never forget is the incredible amounts of organisation and dances, songs and responsibility that is performed like clock work. The wailing that daluk do to show their grief is unlike anything I have every heard. It is honestly harmonic. It is a noise that can never be replicated by balander and sends incredible powerful shivers down my spine. The way Bininj show grief is so unique. I, personally, love that they express their emotions so loudly. They are not taught to hold those emotions in like balanders – eg little kids often get told by their parents ‘don’t cry, be brave’. I just find the comfort that Bininj feel when it comes to outwardly sharing their grief through wailing a real strength and honourable part of their beautiful culture. I will say (which is alluded too in the article) that when they threaten to self harm (or cut themselves with sharp rocks to show their remorse, it can be very confronting and I had to take a few hours to process this.

  4. Zenobia-J
    Zenobia-J says:

    I have never attended a community funeral and have had no prior knowledge of what it involve. Reading the article by Brown has provided me with some idea of what this might be like, but I do feel that until you have actually experienced a community funeral it is probably very difficult to imagine. I really appreciated Andrea P sharing her experience with us here on the forum. What the reading also highlighted for me is the complexity of the cultural /family connections and what integral part song and dance are to the funeral. I also find the logistical challenges fascinating, where a funeral can take place such a long time after the actual death due to inaccessibility to land. It is not something that we would even consider in our western approach to funerals and death.

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