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Truku

Based on the utuxrudan (ancestral spirit) belief, the Truku (Taroko) people have developed a unique folk religion, whereby disasters, illness, societal wellbeing, blessings, paranormal phenomena, and occurrences of unknown origins are either explained or resolved. In daily life, the Truku people believe that the family ancestral spirit is the drive for observing the norm of life (gaya), which implies the cleansing of the unclean and rebuilding of order. From the everyday societal rituals, involving ppangan (removal), peeru (sensing), sedal (adhesion), and qdheriq (separation), it is not difficult to understand the interaction and complementary nature between people and ancestral spirits.

According to the oral description of tribal seniors, ancestral spirits live the same as humankind, the only difference is ancestral spirits and people live in two different worlds in parallel, forming a complementary relationship. By offering sacrifices, people comfort ancestral spirits, express their wishes, and pray for accomplishment. Due to the faith and sincerity of descendants, ancestral spirits do not disturb people anymore but bless them with spiritual power. This kind of human-spirit relationship is still seen in the modern hunting sacrifice ritual, when people sacrifice the pigs or chickens they raise to the ancestral spirit to express people’s diligent nature (domesticated pigs—men’s power), praying to catch wild boars in the assistance of spiritual power; and by catching the wild boar (wild boar—spiritual power), it is a proof of the blessing of the ancestral spirits.

Today, although many Truku people go to church, follow the doctrines of Christianity, and “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”, they still believe in the existence of ancestral spirits. During weddings, funerals, and celebrations, masuw (pig sharing) and sacrifices for qnselan (ancestral spirits) are still important rituals to the Truku people. The Mgay Bari (Ancestral Spirit Ritual) is held after the millet harvest, and the exact date is determined by the chief or elders through discussion. Offerings of the ritual include wine, glutinous rice, crop, fruit, and fish. During the ritual, people tie offerings on bamboo, and elders call the ancestral spirits to enjoy the offerings. After the ritual, offerings are shared by people. When leaving the ritual place, people leave the food waste there and cross over a fire to symbolize separation from the ancestral spirits. On the way home, they do not look back.