In every society there exists certain customs, traditions, and beliefs associated with the movement of any given individual through life. Typically, the major events that are connected with these rituals are occurrences such as birth, puberty, marriage, and death. Each culture possesses its own set of rules and ideals to accompany the attainment of a new social status. These rituals are often called rites of passage. In his book Rites of Passage, Arnold Van Gennep describes the three phases of transition that accompany a "rite de passage". The three phases are separation, liminal or margin, and the final being reintegration or aggregation. I would like to compare and contrast these phases, focusing on the transition phase (liminal), in relation to funerary rites across different groups of people. In collaboration with this comparison, I would like to look at the way family members and members of the community are pulled into the liminal state by the death of a loved one. .
Marcia Eliade makes reference to the Toradja people in the passage From Primitives to Zen. The article is meant to bring the reader through the events that take place when a member of the Toradja community dies. Throughout the reading it becomes clear that the immediate family members and close friends become very weary when a death occurs. Immediately mourning begins and both the deceased person and close friends and family are thrown into a liminal state. The society believes that crops, weather, and other natural occurrences, as well as the spiritual well-being of those closely related to the departed, can be negatively influenced by the deceased person. It is because of the prospective threat of misfortune befalling the community and family that onlookers become so wrapped up in ensuring that the soul (angga) arrives successfully to the underworld (torate). In doing so, the group separates themselves from the rest of society and uneasiness is felt within the family until the shaman performs the final rites of passage.