The puberty rite is a life ceremony held to recognize the young man has the ability and qualifications to enter the community, which is a widespread cultural phenomenon. Because The puberty rite has a long history in many countries, children and parents will hold a grand ceremony for it. In essence, “puberty rite” is a series of rituals for a young person to face the mission in adult society in the future. Through this ritual, it proved that they have entered the rank of adult from a teenager, and accordingly obtain all kinds of power within the adult society, especially the marriage or sexual relationship power.
The puberty rite is not only celebrated in variety and complex rituals in the world but also can be divided into the following categories due to their different recognition in societies:
1.Mark type. This is a puberty rite ceremony marked by some kind of marks on the body. Its purpose is to distinguish adults from children by the very intuitive form so that people can enjoy the rights of adults, as well as abide by taboos that adults need to follow, which helps to facilitate the supervision of members of society. The Mark type puberty rite is one of the oldest forms of adult ceremony, and its remains, like stained teeth and tattoo, still exist in many ethnic groups.
2.Test type. This is a ceremony to test the participants in puberty rite through all kinds of trials. The customs stipulate that only the person who is tested can be accepted by their social groups. This test type of puberty rite is very necessary for primitive people who lived in hard and dangerous natural conditions. Most of the participants in this type are male. There are different forms of ritual, such as circumcision, tooth extraction, chisel teeth, smoking, whipping, cutting marks, and time-limited exile, etc., which are limited to the extent that their culture can be accommodated and recognized.
3.Decoration type. This is a kind of decoration for an adult during the puberty rite. This ceremony is the continuation and development of the mark type because of the purposes of decoration, just like the mark type is to distinguish between adult and adult, and ultimately determine the rights and obligations of an adult.
The later period that puberty rite in, the more intuitionistic for its cultural education meaning. In other words, the puberty rite is closely combined with the education of the clan, tribe, or ethnic culture. Therefore, just like the Soviet scholar Kesiwen’s view, puberty rite is an educational ritual (2006). For example, among the Indians in Africa and Latin America, the female puberty rite is a centralized school education. This puberty rite education mode later developed into a secret society, and even become a leader in school education.
Dispute and modern significance
There is no doubt that the puberty rite has had a great influence on the evolution and development of human society. But some people believe that this contribution only works in the traditional society, or even in the primitive society. And some puberty rites are too inhumane and even have the phenomenon of sex discrimination. So today, people have been applied to even give up for the puberty rite. However, compared with other culture behavior, the puberty rite has the irreplaceable role in standardizing human behavior and establishing social order. Many countries and regions in the world still preserve, develop or reestablish a new puberty rite or adult festival in modern society, which aims to make sure that one young adult should have the sense of morality, responsibility, legal rights and obligations when he or she enters into the adult society. The modern significance of puberty rite has the following main points:
- Puberty rite distinguishes adults from non-adults through the rites or activities. Adult festivals can make the sense of growth timed and concrete, and it is very useful for young people to turn from physical maturity to psychological and cultural maturity.
- Through the related activities and oath of the puberty rite, the social responsibility and obligation of the adult should be clearly defined, so as to strengthen the citizen consciousness. Human beings are social animals, with extensive cultural norms and constraints. Thus in the adult stage, all the responsibilities and obligations of the adult society should be taken up.
- The puberty rite can help young people establish a correct outlook and values on life, as well as to strengthen the individual’s adult consciousness.
If the primitive society or the traditional society overemphasized the social value and existence of the adults, and the modern society overemphasizes the existence of the juveniles, the return of the traditional puberty rite is a balance and reconciliation between both of them. On the other hand, because of the living stander of modern society is highly developed, we need to selectively abandon some traditional rituals which do harms to the body in the primitive society, such as circumcision, tooth extraction, tattoos, etc. But when mentioned the puberty rite itself, whether, in the primitive society or the modern society, it still has a high educational significance.
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