The Rites of Passage and Liminality Essay

1016 Words Feb 7th, 2013 5 Pages
The Rites of Passage and Liminality
Originally developed by anthropologist Arnold van Gennep in the early 20th century in his book Rites de Passage, the term liminality refers to the concept in which participants are in the threshold stage of disorientation and suspension from the previous social norm that they were used to. When an individual goes through a rite of passage—also coined by van Gennep—he is cut off from his “old life” and is born again into a new person. However, before he can fully become a new person and finish his rite of passage, he is suspended in a liminal stage that bridges the old self with the newly acknowledged self. In other words, he is in a stage of disorientation and amorphous identity. Found throughout all
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The night before the rite of passage was to be performed, the male relatives and community would dance and sing all night in costumes and masks, awakening the boys consecutively to parade them around in the ritual. Before they were about to be “killed”, the mothers would sorrowfully feed their sons a “Last Supper” as if they were still infants. Shortly thereafter, the boys were marched down to a clearing known as the “place of dying”, and suddenly attacked by the guardian males, who held each boy down and circumcised him. Upon having their wounds fully healed, they were then allowed to return unto their village as men.
According to the Islamic culture and society, every Muslim must make a trek to Mecca—the hajj—at least once in their lifetime to pay tribute to Allah, the God of the Islam religion. The trek is a mandatory component of being a good Muslim for that is the secular proclamation of being a faithful follower, as according to the Prophet Muhammed who said that a person will journey to Mecca a sinful man and return home afterwards as a newborn baby purified. The ritual itself consists of five steps, each categorized into a day: the purifying ihram in which all men are in unity and peace, and the desperate run from the hills of Safa to Marwa in remembrance of Hagar; the travel to Arafah to repent of their sins and collect seventy pebbles as somewhat totems; the return to Mina to

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