Modern Rites Of Passage Essay

1315 words - 5 pages

According to many scholars, such as Mircae Eliade, human beings can be described as creatures of religion and ritual. The appearance of ritual across the globe is one of the prevalent aspects of humanity that transcends all political, social, cultural and geographical differences. While ritual itself has many forms, one of the most regnant aspect is that of the Rite of Passage. This paper will examine rites of passage as defined by the anthropologist Victor Turner through examples of two modern Canadian rituals; the graduation from high school and the completion of undergraduate studies. From the sequences of the rites of passage to the modern examples of such, Canadian culture has proven itself to be full of ritualistic rites.
    Cultures the world over have a variety of rituals that each use to find order and clarity. Ritual can be defined as a "a sequence of symbolic activities...closely connected to a specific set of ideas that are often encoded in myth". It is a significant action or sequence of actions that is repeatable and recognized by the society as a ritual. While ritual itself can be broken down into many different typologies spanning from cycles of natures and seasons to devotional rituals, one of the most important and widespread rituals is the rite of passage. A rite of passage is a life cycle rite which involves a community. They are highly symbolic, functional and meaningful rituals that are important to all cultures. They are the ritual in which "one or more members of a society are ritually transformed from one kind of social person into another". They are generally initiation rituals for adulthood, but can also be marriages, births and funerals. The anthropologist Victor Turner studied rites of passage in his book The Ritual Process. In his studies, Turner points out that most rites of passage follow three elements in a sequence. Firstly, there must be a separation. In this stage the person undergoing the ritual is separated from their normal every day lives. Next, there is a stage of transition, also known as a liminal state or period. Within this threshold stage, the person involved in the ritual has no status. They experience a loss of identity and in many cases, a loss of their childhood. The individual faces darkness, nature and loss during this element. They also experience a sense of learning, as they are tutored in the skills and knowledge that they will need once they obtain their new status. It is also during this state that a strong sense of comradery called communitas occurs between those involves in the ritual. This communitas is a state of intense bonding and a sense of equality between participants. The final element of the Rites of Passage is the reaggregation or reincorporation into the social world with the newly acquired status. Using Turner's schema, one can easily see many modern examples of rites of passage rituals across the globe, namely throughout the regions of multi-cultural Canada....

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