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In multiple religious traditions, living relatives call on ancestors to provide aid, guidance, and intercession. Ancestors are generally beneficent, domesticated, and deceased relatives or prominent community figures. They may also be seen to punish those who do not act properly toward them or their guidance. And the living show reciprocity for ancestors by honoring them through memorials, caring for the resting place of the ancestor, making prayers for and to ancestors, offering goods to ancestors that are needed in the afterlife, and holding feasts for ancestors.

An important consideration in understanding ancestors in various religious traditions is in clearly making the differentiation between ancestors and the dead. While ancestors have passed beyond this life, they are ancestors because they are considered to have passed on to ...

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