Rite of passage
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A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person's transition from one status to another. Rites of passage explore and describe various notable milestones in an individual's life, for any marked transitional stage, when one's social status is altered.
The concept of rites of passage as a general theory of socialization was first formally articulated by Arnold van Gennep in his book The Rites of Passage to denote rituals marking the transitional phase between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group. Van Gennep's work exercised a deep impact on anthropological thought. Milestones include transitions from puberty, junior, middle and high school, coming of age, marriage, family and death.
Initiation ceremonies such as baptism, akika, upanayana, confirmation and Bar or Bat Mitzvah are considered important rites of passage for people of their respective religions. Rites of passage show anthropologists what social hierarchies, values and beliefs are important in specific cultures.
Rites of passage have three phases: separation, liminality, and incorporation, as van Gennep described. "I propose to call the rites of separation from a previous world, preliminal rites, those executed during the transitional stage liminal (or threshold) rites, and the ceremonies of incorporation into the new world postliminal rites."
In the first phase, people withdraw from their current status and prepare to move from one place or status to another. "The first phase (of separation) comprises symbolic behavior signifying the detachment of the individual or group ... from an earlier fixed point in the social structure." There is often a detachment or "cutting away" from the former self in this phase, which is signified in symbolic actions and rituals. For example, the cutting of the hair for a person who has just joined the army. He or she is "cutting away" the former self: the civilian.
The transition (liminal) phase is the period between states, during which one has left one place or state but has not yet entered or joined the next. "The attributes of liminality or of liminal personae ("threshold people") are necessarily ambiguous."
In the third phase (reaggregation or incorporation) the passage is consummated [by] the ritual subject." Having completed the rite and assumed their "new" identity, one re-enters society with one's new status. Re-incorporation is characterized by elaborate rituals and ceremonies, like debutant balls and college graduation, and by outward symbols of new ties: thus "in rites of incorporation there is widespread use of the 'sacred bond', the 'sacred cord', the knot, and of analogous forms such as the belt, the ring, the bracelet and the crown."
Laboratory experiments have shown that severe initiations produce cognitive dissonance. It is theorized that such dissonance heightens group attraction among initiates after the experience, arising from internal justification of the effort used. Rewards during initiations have important consequences in that initiates who feel more rewarded express stronger group identity. As well as group attraction, initiations can also produce conformity among new members. Psychology experiments have also shown that initiations increase feelings of affiliation.
Initiation rites are seen as fundamental to human growth and development as well as socialization in many African communities. These rites function by ritually marking the transition of someone to full group membership. It also links individuals to the community and the community to the broader and more potent spiritual world. Initiation rites are a natural and necessary part of a community, just as arms and legs are natural and necessary extension of the human body. These rites are linked to individual and community development. Dr. Manu Ampim identifies five stages; rite to birth, rite to adulthood, rite to marriage, rite to eldership and rite to ancestorship. In Zulu culture entering womanhood is celebrated by the Umhlanga (ceremony).
Types and examples
Rites of passage are diverse, and are found throughout many cultures around the world. Many western societal rituals may look like rites of passage but miss some of the important structural and functional components. However, in many Native and African-American communities, traditional Rites of Passage programs are conducted by community-based organizations such as Man Up Global. Typically the missing piece is the societal recognition and reincorporation phase. Adventure Education programs, such as Outward Bound, have often been described as potential rites of passage. Pamela Cushing researched the rites of passage impact upon adolescent youth at the Canadian Outward Bound School and found the rite of passage impact was lessened by the missing reincorporation phase. Bell (2003) presented more evidence of this lacking third stage and described the "Contemporary Adventure Model of a Rites of Passage" as a modern and weaker version of the rites of passage typically used by outdoor adventure programs. For non-religious people, Rites of Passage are important as well. They mark important changes in their lives and they help to guide them.
Coming of age
In various tribal societies, entry into an age grade—generally gender-separated—(unlike an age set) is marked by an initiation rite, which may be the crowning of a long and complex preparation, sometimes in retreat.
- Bar and Bat Mitzvah
- Coming of Age in Unitarian Universalism
- Débutante ball
- First menstruation
- Seclusion of girls at puberty
- Sevapuneru or Turmeric ceremony in South India
- Jugendweihe in East Germany
- Okuyi in several West African nations
- Russ in Norway
- Scarification and various other physical endurances
- Secular coming of age ceremonies for non-religious youngsters who want a rite of passage comparable to the religious rituals like confirmation
- Sweet Sixteen
- Baptism (Christening)
- Bar and Bat Mitzvah in Judaism
- Confirmation in Reform Judaism
- Diving for the Cross, in some Orthodox Christian churches
- First Eucharist and First Confession (especially First Communion in Catholicism)
- Saṃskāra a series of sacraments in Hinduism
- Shinbyu in Theravada Buddhism
- Vision quest in some Native American cultures
- Blood wings
- Line-crossing ceremony
- Krypteia, a rite involving young Spartans, part of the agoge regime of Spartan education.
- Wetting-down. In the U.S. Navy and Royal Navy, is a ceremony in which a Naval officer is ceremonially thrown into the ocean upon receiving a promotion.
Some academic circles such as dorms, fraternities, teams and other clubs practice hazing, ragging and fagging. Szecskáztatás, a mild form of hazing (usually without physical and sexual abuse) practiced in some Hungarian secondary schools. First-year junior students are publicly humiliated through embarrassing clothing and senior students branding their faces with marker pens; it is sometimes also a contest, with the winners usually earning the right to organize the next event.
- White coat ceremony in medicine and pharmacy.
- The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer, also known as the Iron Ring Ceremony
- Walk on Water: Second-year students must pass the competition to continue in the school of architecture at Florida International University in the United States
- Castration in some sects and special castes
- Van Gennep 1909.
- Garces-Foley 2006: 230.
- van Gennep 1977: 21
- Turner 1969: 80.
- Turner 1969: 95
- Turner 1969: 80
- van Gennep 1977: 166
- Aronson & Mills 1959.
- Festinger 1961.
- Kamau 2012.
- Keating et al. 2005.
- Lodewijkx et al. 2005.
- "African Culture Complex". Retrieved 2011-10-04.
- http://www.manuampim.com/AfricanInitiationRites.htm The Five Major African Initiation Rites Prof. Manu Ampim
- Cushing 1998.
- Morgenstern 1966.
- "Rites of Passage". Oxford Islamic Studies Online. 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- "Traditional Muslim Male Circumcision: Performed by Arabs, Turkish, Malaysian and Others of this faith.". CIRCLIST. 1992–2013. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- Hamid, Ismail (2005). "Islamic Rites of Passage". The Encyclopedia of Malaysia Volume 10: Religions and Beliefs. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
- Aronson, E. & Mills, J. (1959) "The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group." Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 59(2): 177–181.
- Bell, B.J. (2003). "The rites of passage and outdoor education: Critical concerns for effective programming." The Journal of Experiential Education, 26, 1, pp. 41–50.
- Cushing, P.J. (1998). "Competing the cycle of transformation: Lessons from the rites of passage model." Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Experiential Education, 9, 5, 7–12.
- Festinger, L. (1961). The psychological effects of insufficient rewards. American Psychologist, 16(1), 1–11.
- Garces-Foley, Kathleen (2006). Death and religion in a changing world. ME Sharpe.
- Kamau, C. (2012). What does being initiated severely into a group do? The role of rewards.International Journal of Psychology, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207594.2012.663957
- Keating, C. F., Pomerantz, J., Pommer, S. D., Ritt, S. J. H., Miller, L. M., & McCormick, J. (2005). Going to college and unpacking hazing: A functional approach to decrypting initiation practices among undergraduates. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 9(2), 104–126.
- Lodewijkx, H. F. M., van Zomeren, M.,&Syroit, J. E. M. M. (2005). The anticipation of a severe initiation: Gender differences in effects on affiliation tendency and group attraction. Small Group Research, 36(2), 237–262.
- Morgenstern, Julian (1966). Rites of Birth, Marriage, Death, and Kindred Occasions among the Semites. Cincinnati.
- Turner, Victor (1967). "Betwixt and between: the liminal period in rites de passage". Forest of symbols: aspects of the Ndembu ritual. Ithaca: Cornell UP. pp. 23–59.
- Turner, Victor W. (1969). The Ritual Process. Penguin.
- Van Gennep, Arnold (1909). Les rites de passage. (in French).
- Hatzopoulos, Miltiades B., "Macedonian Cults" (as "Cultes et rites de passage en Macédoine"), Athens & Paris, 1994
- Devine, A.M., "Review: Macedonian Cults", The Classical Review, New Series, Vol. 46, No. 2 (1996), pp. 279–281, Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association
- Padilla, Mark William (editor), "Rites of Passage in Ancient Greece: Literature, Religion, Society", Bucknell University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8387-5418-X
|Look up rite of passage in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Rites of Passage in Africa
- A list of rites of passage and similar rituals Various ethnographic examples
- How to create your own coming of age rite of passage