Rites of passage are the special rituals held in a variety of cultures. The main objective of these rituals is to establish the transition of a person from one stage of life to another and the transformation of their roles, duties, ways of thinking. During the rites of passage of some cultures, the bodies of the participants are also transformed – the participants can undergo circumcisions, scarification, have their bodies tattooed or pierced.
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Traditionally, rites of passage include three main phases, such as separation, transition, and incorporation (Haviland, Prins, Walrath, and McBride 302). The rite of passage discussed in this paper comes from the culture of the Ogiek tribe that dwells in Kenya, Africa.
The ritual targets boys and girls of 14 to 16 years old. The males and females are initiated separately. The first stage of the ritual is circumcision. After that, the initiates are to live separately from the rest of the tribe in the wilderness for one or several months. This I the separation phase – the initiated individuals are temporarily isolated from the rest of the community or a tribe. During the initiation, the young Ogiek cover themselves in white clay to resemble wild animals and are haunted by a mysterious wild beast that roars in the night.
The roar is artificially created by the elders of the tribe. This is the transition phase – the individuals undergo a trial or a test of some kind where they need to demonstrate certain qualities such as bravery, endurance, and strength. The separation and the transition phases are merged together in this rite of passage. The initiates are incorporated back into their tribe after they meet with the elders and get to hold the instrument, which is used to produce the roar and are allowed to use it themselves.
To sum up, the Ogiek rite of passage for teenage boys and girls includes separation, transition, and incorporation phases and is held in order to test the readiness of the young people to become adults and deal with the responsibilities and challenges of the adult life.
Haviland, William A., Harald E.L. Prins, Dana Walrath, Bunny McBride. The Essence of Anthropology. 3rd ed. Boston: Cengage Learning, 2013. Print.