A smoking ceremony is an ancient custom that involves burning various native plants to produce smoke. The smoke is believed to have cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits.
Smoking ceremonies can reverse the power of curses and evil spirits and are a significant symbol representing First Nations People’s spirituality to their land. Smoking ceremonies are performed at major events.
The people who conduct these ceremonies are handed down the wisdom from Elders after they’ve earned the status of knowing lore and customs. Smoking ceremonies can be performed at births, marriages, and men’s and women’s business. They can also be held at commemorations, such as Sorry Business.
At JCU, events where a smoking ceremony has been given include the decommissioning of Western Campus, the opening of the Indigenous Outdoor Teaching Space, the naming of local creeks, and the cultural ceremony for students who are about to graduate.
Depending on the size of the event, a smoking ceremony can take 10-20 minutes to perform.
Sorry Business is the term used for a death in a family and has a serious significance for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Different cultural groups and regions have their own cultural ways of grieving the loss of their family and community members. Relationships with family (can be up to 500 people or more) and community can be strong and complex. For instance, Aunts and Uncles can also have a mother and father role and share equal responsibility in raising children.
Attending funerals (Sorry Business) in one’s community is a sign of respect to their community and the family of the deceased. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander funerals may require extended formalities where cultural responsibilities and requirements for the family are considered. The funeral will almost always take place in the community where they were born, and attendees will need to travel to and from, as well as participate in this important ritual.
Sorry Business can take days or weeks so one will require extended personal leave.
Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander will respect you if you take the time to understand their grief and loss.
A tombstone unveiling is a Torres Strait Island cultural ceremony, performed to reaffirm the imperishable bonds between the living and the departed. A year or more after a burial, this second ceremony with special rites is held.
To learn about tombstone unveilings, please visit this Mabo Native Title website: http://www.mabonativetitle.com/info/tombstoneUnveiling.htm