Rites of Passage Laos Essay

1343 Words Dec 23rd, 2010 6 Pages
Rites Of Passage In Third World Laos

Thaviesak Nachampassak
APY 105 - Intro to Anthropology
Poltorak, D L

Rites of Passage: Laotian Culture

“Here I am at the crossroads into adulthood. I stand before the threshold to adulthood ready to sever the ties of my youth, and begin new growth on the dead tree that represents childhood. The tree of youth that once stood tall with all of it’s quirky branches and knots, now lays horizontal, ready to give my new growth all the water and nutrients it needs to grow.” (Eli Keltz) From birth to death in any culture whether it be eastern or western there are special times in ones life that signify the path to maturity through birth, adolescence, marriage and death. “Rite of passage” is a term
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For example after a couples first child is born, a ceremony is held to give an honorific name to the young father. The ceremony marks the young grooms passage into full familial responsibility. During the event the father-in-law is invited to give the child an honorific name which usually means he would add one name to the son in laws original name. Occasionally the father in law would give the young man a completely new name which is usually two or more syllables long. Hence Laotians long first and last names on paper. But that isn’t all, three days after a child is born the family holds a sort of soul calling ceremony which is added on to the naming ceremony also. The purpose of the ritual is to call upon the soul of the newborn towards the family to aid in giving the child a name. Being a highly superstitious culture the belief in ghosts, spirits and monsters is highly regarded. This relates back to the roots that are retained from ancient Buddhist beliefs that came throughout history over time. Yet in order to call the soul of the child to the family a pig or a chicken is ritually slaughtered, then roasted and eaten by the family thus ending the ritual. As the child gets older there is not really any rite of passage into the adolescent stage of life. Unlike those who have Bar mitzvahs and quincineras to signify passage into adulthood for women and men Lao culture is more simple and everything is based on gender and again reflects Buddhist thinking of

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