Competition AH2: winning entries

Thank you very much to everyone who submitted an entry to Competition AH2, based on Dr Samuel Derbyshire’s article on Documenting Endangered Knowledge. Below you can read some of the winning entries, as selected by our team of markers.

Lauren’s winning entry

Sukkot or ‘the feast of tabernacles’ was my favourite festival when I was growing up. The other children and I worked together to help build the sukkah; gathering leaves, sticks and branches for the adults to construct a hut. This is done to symbolize the temporary shelters built whilst the Jews wandered the desert for forty years. Spending time in the fragile huts also makes Jews appreciate the shelter of their comfortable homes. Decorating the sukkah is another part of the tradition, which is the part that we children were most involved in.

Traditionally, Jews are required to sleep in the sukkah for eight days or at least eat their meals inside of it for the duration of the holiday. Another important part of celebrating Sukkot is the ritual of waving the ‘four species’ the lulav (a bouquet of a palm leaf, willow branches and myrtle branches) in one hand and the etrog (a citrus fruit) in the other. The four species are held and waved throughout the holiday to represent God’s presence everywhere. There are multiple interpretations of what the ‘four species’ mean. Some scholars preach that the four elements refer to four parts of the body, whilst others believe they refer to four different types of people. Throughout the festival Jews pray each day and tell stories of the time spent wandering the desert. Sukkot is one of the pilgrim festivals, it is a time of celebration and joy. Often music is played and songs are sung to give thanks to God. This is most apparent in Israel where there is a solidarity march (parade) in Jerusalem. People come together to make noise and celebrate God. However, Sukkot is a joyous occasion wherever it is celebrated with people smiling and wishing each other a “Chag Sameach” (Happy Holiday)!

Leonita’s winning entry

The Islamic religion perceives death as a transition and entry to the after life. How you enter the afterlife and where you go depends on the actions and decisions made in the ‘Dunya’ (temporal world). Muslims believe that if you have followed the Islamic religious codes, you will be rewarded by entering paradise after you have died, therefore, the ceremony taken place when death occurs in an Islamic family/ society is sacred.

Everyone that will attend the funeral participates in a group prayer that mourns the loss of the beloved and prays mercy on their after life. Islamic funerals focus on grief for their families and to hope that a good afterlife will be granted for the deceased.

One important funeral ritual that takes place is that the burial occurs as soon as possible after the death has happened. For this reason, there is no view in, wake or visitation of the deceased as expected from other social expectations. The body is washed 3 times usually by the spouse or a same-sex family member and covered by a sheet. The body and the attendees of the funeral all face towards the position of Mecca (holy centre of Islam). The funeral prayers are led by an Imaam, (holy leader) and attendees form 3 lines consisting of men, then children, and women in the back. A ritual that usually occurs is that each person at the burial throws 3 handfuls of soil into the grave . After the prayers are done, the body is taken to the burial site and silence is continued as a form of respect towards the deceased.