Sample Essay On Rites Of Passage
Every society has formal and informal rituals designating the passage of a boy or girl into adulthood. There are universally three phases that comprise a rite of passage: severance, threshold, and incorporation. One such rite of passage is the Native American Indians of Southern California welcoming young girls into womanhood.
The Severance Phase of this ritual involves an announcement and public celebration when the girl begins to menstruate. She is leaving behind the life of a child and entering the unknown territory of becoming a woman with the guidance of the other women in the tribe. The girl experiences a loss of identity within the community and her family unit.
During the Threshold Phase, the girl is no longer a child but not yet a woman. At this time, she partially buried in heated sand. She must not eat salt or scratch herself during this period; the discomfort during this period represents the importance of the transition. The women of the tribe use this time to teach her about the changes her body is undergoing and she is instructed on her responsibilities as a wife. The girl is in transition, having relinquished her old identity but not yet associating with her new one.
In the Incorporation Phase, the young woman is accepted as an adult into the tribe. She is now expected to use the education and insight she gained in the ritual to fulfill her duties as a woman in the tribe. Using this definition and ritual, a girl becomes a woman when she becomes physically able to conceive a child. Her new identity as an adult changes her relationships within her family and the community.
In present day society, this physical ritual is rarely, if ever, observed. However, the attitude that a young girl becomes a woman with the onset of menses continues if only due to the fact that from that period on, she is able of conceiving and bearing a child. It is expected that a female of any age capable of having a child and raising it is worthy of the label of adulthood.
Haviland, William A et al. Cultural Anthropology. Print.
O'Neil, Dennis. “Process Of Socialization: Rites Of Passage”. Anthro.palomar.edu. N.p., 2007. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.
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