Come Together

The cultural meaning Pintupi attribute to "happiness" is clear in the following example. 

Informants frequently told me that the settlement where they lived was "not a happy place." There were fights all the time because there were "no ceremonies." There should be, they said, "ceremonies all the time." Indeed, on a day in which numerous fights and arguments were occurring, several men suggested that a ceremony be organized to stop the fighting. This would, it was thought, make everyone happy.

There is a reality to this expectation. Singing functions as a "ritual process" that reduces discord, and it also presents participants with a lesson about what it means to be among walytja.

Typically, when ceremonies take place among people who do not usually camp together, they are organized to reflect cooperation and complementarity (through exchange of functions and meat), drawing symbolically on the model of the individual camp. Ceremony presents intergroup relations as involving the same mutuality and sharing as other relations of walytja. Indeed, those with whom one takes part in a ceremony become walytja to a degree.

To the Pintupi, singing provides a salient image of sociability. Whenever large groups came together in traditional times, they would sing together at night. Ceremony-song and dance was the real content of most intergroup relations.

[Fred R. Myers]
Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self, p.112

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