The world is filled with several different cultures with their unknown beliefs. Culture can be defined as complex system of values, traits, moral and customs shared by a society. Another word that shapes culture is its rituals, which is formed by different countries. Rituals are associated with religious observation and beliefs. Culture can be viewed as a different prospective. Many anthropologists found discoveries of many rituals among humans and animals that are being practiced today in the world. They believe that these rituals have the power to bind or tear people from their culture.
Victor Turner is a famous anthropologist who made many contributions to culture religion and its rituals. In the text from Essentials of Cultural Anthropology, anthropologists define religion as 3 basic characteristic which are, beliefs in relation to supernatural powers, teachings and traditions of those supernatural powers and rituals that are performed to benefit from supernatural from a specific group. Rituals can be performed by anyone, anytime, and any place. Rituals are performed for many reasons, for example, to fulfill a religious role, satisfy a spiritual need, strengthen ocial bonds, and to be accepted in society.
One of the anthropologists whose thinking greatly influenced our ideas about rituals was Victor Turner. Turners book The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, describes liminality, an important concept which he identified in one particular kind of ritual, the rite of passage. Rites of passages are rituals that mark the beginning of one stage to the next. These stages or movements also called milestones. There are many various rites of passages in different cultures. For example, in the Jewish culture circumcision of the newborn is performed.
In Indian culture, Mendhi, the decoration of hands, is performed on special occasion before young girls marriage. In Puerto Rico, The Quinceanera a rite acknowledging a girl’s passage from childhood to womanhood around the age of fifteen, and the Bar/Bat Mitzvah – a rite marking when boys and girls assume adult responsibilities around the age of thirteen, are both rites of passage that mark the transition from childhood to adulthood. Graduation, for example, represents the passage of members of a school’s student body out of the school and into another stage of education or experience.
Rites of passage comprise a large and important category of rituals, but not all rituals are rites of passage. For instance, according to the article, The Ritual Process, Turner describes Thanksgiving Day parade, as a celebration of change of seasons from summer to fall, and considers it as a cyclic ritual, not a rite of passage. In China, the Chinese’s practice the birth ritual. This starts before pregnancy to a child’s first birthday. The purpose of this ritual is for the child’s wellbeing and the long life of the child. This ritual has 3 parts, which are Sanzbao, Manyue, Bairi and Zhuazhao.
Sanzbao is performed 3 days after the child’s birth with visitors giving the child gifts that express wishes for the child’s good health as well as its prosperous life. Manyue is performed when the baby reaches its full month of birth. During Manyue, the family shaves the child’s head. When the child reaches its hundred days of birth, the uncle of the child will give the child its name. The last part of this birth ritual is the Zhuazhao, which is performed to predict the According to the items chosen, it will predict the luck of the child. Humans are not the only ones that carry on rituals.
Animals perform them as well. For example, many animal species greet each other or fight as a ritual. Ritual fights are very Important to avoid unnecessary strong physical violence between conflicting animals. In Indonesia in Bali, the Balinese cockfght is performed as a religious ceremony. Balinese men take pride in grooming and training the roosters until they are six months old until they are ready to fght. The fghts between the roosters cause injuries and even death. Therefore, cockfighting is considered a bloody sport by animal welfare and at some point it was banned.
In the fght, the owner of the winning cock gets the body of the loser. Religious rituals include animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, and lamentation. In Judaism animal sacrifice is done so the divine can forgive human sins. During the Inca Empire, the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice. The Aztecs believed in a concept of “animating spirit”. This spirit was in the blood, and since blood flowed from the heart, this was the organ that was offered up to fulfill god’s appetite. It was believed that without these sacrifices, all motion would stop including the movement of the un.
In Indian culture when a person expires, women weep; sing songs loudly with striking their hands to their knees in belief that such actions will carry the soul to afterlife. In The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, Victor Turner examines rituals of the Ndembu in Zambia and develops his now-famous concept of “Communitas. ” He describes it as an “absolute inter-human relation beyond any form of structure”. Turner demonstrates how the analysis of ritual behavior and symbolism may be used as a key to understanding social structure and processes.
He xtends Van Gennep’s notion of the “liminal phase” of rites of passage to a more general level, and applies it to gain understanding of a wide range of social phenomena. Turner created the new concept of social drama in order to account for the symbolism of conflict and crisis resolution among Ndembu villagers. Turner spent his career exploring rituals. He began to apply his study of rituals and rites of passage to world religions and the lives of religious heroes. Turner explored Arnold van Gennep’s threefold structure of rites of passage and expanding theories on the liminal phase.
Van Gennep’s structure consisted of a pre-liminal phase (separation), a liminal phase (transition), and a post-liminal phase (reincorporation). Turner noted that in liminality, the transitional state between two phases, individuals were “betwixt and between”: they did not belong to the society that they previously were a part of and they were not yet included into that society. Turner’s symbolic analysis was an important advance in anthropological research on ritual. In his studies of the liminal phase in ritual, Turner showed that ritual is not Just a response to society’s needs but involves humanly meaningful action.
It was Turner’s notion of social drama in combination with Van Gennep’s influential work on rites of passage, which led Turner to analyze ritual not simply as a mechanism of redress, but as humanly meaningful cultural performances of an important process of nature. Religious teachings along with their rituals explain why things are the way they are. Baily, Garrick & James Peoples Religion and World View- Essentials of Cultural Anthropology (2nd Ed) Victor, Turner. The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti- Structure. Transaction Publishers, 1995 www. chinatravel. com , Traditions and Customs