Writes of passage

In addition, all these groups break down into still smaller societies in subgroups. The population of a society belongs to multiple groups, some more important to the individual than others.

Writes of passage

If the blemishes incurred in this or a previous life are not… Nature and significance Many of the most important and common rites of passage are connected with the biological crises, or milestones, of life—birth, maturity, reproduction, and death—that bring changes in social status and, therefore, in the social relations of the people concerned.

Other rites of passage celebrate changes that are wholly cultural, such as initiation into societies composed of people with special interests—for example, fraternities. Rites of passage are universal, and presumptive evidence from archaeology in the form of burial finds strongly suggests that they go back to very early times.

One aspect of rites of passage that is often overlooked by interpreters perhaps because it appears obvious is the role of the rites in providing entertainment.

Passage rites and other religious events have in the past been the primary socially approved means of participating in pleasurable activities, and religion has been a primary vehicle for artmusicsongdance, and other forms of aesthetic experience. The worldwide distribution of these rites long ago attracted the attention of scholars, but the first substantial interpretation of them as a class of phenomena was presented in by the French anthropologist and folklorist Arnold van Gennepwho coined the phrase rites of passage.

Van Gennep saw such rites as means by which individuals are eased, without social disruption, through the difficulties of transition from one social role to another. On the basis of an extensive survey of preliterate and literate societies, van Gennep held that rites of passage consist of three distinguishable, consecutive elements: The person or persons on whom the rites centre is first symbolically severed from his old status, then undergoes adjustment to the new status during the period of transition, and is finally reincorporated into society in his new social status.

Although the most commonly observed rites relate to crises in the life cycle, van Gennep saw the significance of the ceremonies as being social or cultural, celebrating important events that are primarily sociocultural or human-made rather than biological.

Nature and significance

Classification of rites No scheme of classification of passage rites has met with general acceptance, although many names have been given to distinguishable types of rites and to elements of rites.

The name purification ceremonies, for example, refers to an element of ritual that is very common in rites of passage and also in other kinds of religious events.

Rite of passage - Wikipedia Original conception[ edit ] In English, Van Gennep's first sentence of his first chapter begins:

In most instances, the manifest goal of purification is to prepare the individual for communication with the supernatural, but purification in rites of passage may also be seen to have the symbolic significance of erasing an old status in preparation for a new one see also purification rite.

Other names that have been given to passage rites often overlap. Life-cycle ceremonies and crisis rites are usually synonymous terms referring to rites connected with the biological crises of life, but some modern scholars have included among crisis rites the ritual observances aimed at curing serious illnesses.

Ceremonies of social transformation and of religious transformation overlap and, similarly, overlap crisis rites. Religious transformations, such as baptism and rites of ordinationalways involve social transformations; social transformations such as at coming-of-age and induction into office may also bring new religious statuses, and life-cycle ceremonies similarly may or may not involve changes in religious statuses.

It is nevertheless sometimes useful to distinguish the various rites by these names. Life-cycle ceremonies Life-cycle ceremonies are found in all societies, although their relative importance varies.

These rites involve the parents as well as the child and in some societies include the couvadewhich in its so-called classic form centres ritual attention at childbirth upon the father rather than the mother.

At this time the father follows elaborate rules of ritual procedure that may include taking to bed, simulating labour pains, and symbolically enacting the successful birth of a child. In all societies some ritual observances surround childbirth, marriage, and death, though the degree of elaboration of the rites varies greatly even among societies of comparable levels of cultural development.

Rites at coming-of-age are the most variable in time in the life span and may be present or absent.

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In some societies such rites are observed for only one sex, are elaborate for one sex and simple for the other, or are not observed for either sex. Characteristically, rites at coming-of-age are not generally observed in modern industrial and postindustrial societies.

For example, the Jewish bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah and Protestant confirmation are, in their current forms, more or less vestiges of formerly important religious rites.Ceremonies that mark important transitional periods in a person's life, such as birth, puberty, marriage, having children, and death.

Rites of passage usually involve ritual activities and teachings designed to strip individuals of their original roles and prepare them for new roles.

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Writes of passage

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What is a rite of passage? Why is it Important? — Rite of Passage Journeys