Rites of passage between Malaysian and Brazilian adolescents
Cultures in all parts of the world practice different and unique rites of passage. For a young people to be acceptable in any given social group, they are required to undergo certain rites of passage, which become their transition period from adolescence to adulthood. The rites of passage among many cultures in the world help in separating or distinguishing boys from men (Virtanen, 2012). Rite of passage is a concept that is used to help explore other areas and in the description of other various milestones in the life of a given individual during transition to any other stage, which includes change of status. Rites of passage in any culture represented in the world shows that there is some social hierarchy that are very important in a given culture and a person have to go through them. The rationale of this paper is to critically examine the rites of passage among the adolescents in Brazil and Malaysia. The paper shall compare and contrast the two processes that young people go through as part of their rites of passage.
Across time and place, most of the cultures have understood the importance of having very clear makers as adolescent’s journey to adulthood. It is important to note that male usually have a rough time while undergoing a transition and as such, it is easy for them to indefinitely drift along. Therefore, we find that rite of passage in every community was delineated as one of the most important and crucial exercises for the community (McCarthy, 2010). Almost every culture in the world has a ritual with regard to rites of passage. However, these rituals vary from one community to the other and from one part of the globe to the other with regard to the ceremonies that go down with the rite of passage. One common thing about all these rite of passage is that they involved in one way or the other physical and emotion pain. This was a test for every adolescent if they were to be initiated to manhood. They were expected by the society to show endurance, courage as well as ability to control personal emotions.
Rites of passage in Brazil
In Brazil, all boys who were being initiated to adulthood had to undergo several processes that made them graduate to manhood. Young men in Brazil were required by their culture to stick their hand in certain gloves, which were usually filled with the bullet ant. The boys were expected to have their hands in the gloves for at least 10 minutes where they would go through pain from a bullet ant stings (Virtanen, 2012). It is believed that after being stung by the bullet ant, it took not less than 24 hours for the pain to recede that is after being stung. The boys were expected to go through this exercise for not less than 20 times before the elders declared them the warriors of the community. The pain that the boys underwent through being stung by the bullet ants helped in revealing the true characters of the warriors to be.
In other communities, in Brazil, the boys who are being initiated to manhood are required to go on a hunt, which is a must for them. The boys have their eyes filled with some poison that is usually very bitter which is said to help improve their vision (Grinder, 2006). As if that is not enough, they experience a beating plus some whipping and are to endure some excruciating injections from a leaf believed to be poisonous known as the giant leaf. These injections are done using crude weapons that is wooden needles. The pains experienced by the young people help them improve on their level of endurance, as well as helps revealing the character of the warriors in making.
Rites of passage in Malaysia
Among the adolescent in Malaysia, the rite of passage that ushers them into manhood is the rite of circumcision which every young person between the age of 12 years and 10 years (McCarthy, 2010). The exercise is carried out in both the rural areas as well as in the urban areas that is the cities. In the urban areas, the rite of passage is done in the mosque or at the hospitals as well as in the local clinics. The young men who are to undergo this rite are required to wake up early in the morning and take a cold bath and after that they dress in fine attire.
In most cases, the boys who are going through initiation by circumcision are the boys who have recently finished reading the holy Koran. It is worth noting that the appropriate time for circumcision to take place in Malaysia is decided by the parents and can take place either when the boy child is an adolescent or when they are children. It is on record that among the Malaysian, the most glittering rites of passage takes place in the villages where a ceremony is prepared (Virtanen, 2012). The relatives to the initiate are invited to witness the auspicious occasion, the neighbour as well as friends are also invited to the ceremony.
For the rites of passage ceremony for the adolescents to kick off in Malaysia, several equipment are required to have been prepared in advance. Among the equipment present are a white cloth that is usually long that is enough to cover the tip of the middle finger to the elbow (Grinder, 2006). A cock is expected to be there and a pail plus a banana plant trunk is necessary during the event.
How the ceremony is performed
Before circumcising the kid, the culture requires that the kid be washed and confined in a private place. The initiate sits on a mat that is usually plaited cross-legged and in front of him sits the guests invited. The place that the initiate sits is considered special and from the place he reads several verses from the Koran (Pinto, 2011). After that process is over, the initiate is expected to sit on a dais where from his point, serve the invited guests with tabak eggs and the teacher of the kid is presented with Malay by the initiate parents. The last thing in this phase entails the initiate shaking hands with the guests and together with the guests they drink and eat.
The next morning as per the tradition, the family prepares chanted water for the purposes of performing ablution and, later the water is slashed on the initiate. It is after this that some special people who perform the rite of passage join the boy who usually sits on the banana trunk and the process of circumcision begins. The cock is placed in front of the initiate after the rite is performed which predicts the welfare of the initiate whether the initiate is healthy and have the capacity to sire. For the next three days, the initiate is under the circumciser and from the following day the parent takes control of his healing process.
There exists some difference between hoe the process of administering the rites of passage are done between the adolescent in Malaysia and those of Brazil. One of the differences that are common is that in Brazil the rites of passage do not involve circumcision as the young people are taken through some different processes where they experience pain to make them endure as the community warrior to be (McCarthy, 2010). In addition to that, the pain is aimed at helping them reveal their real characters. On the other hand, the adolescent in Brazil go through a rite of passage that involves initiation by circumcision where the fore skin of the young boy is removed.
It is also worth noting that in Brazil, the rites of passage are done specifically to young men between the age of 10 years and 12 years. The case in Malaysia is quite different in that initiation by circumcision takes place at any moment the parent of the initiate decides as the most appropriate.
Another clear difference that can be noted between the rite of passage ceremony among the Brazilians and in Malaysia is that participation is not the same. For instance, we find that the initiation by circumcision ceremony among the Malaysian communities is relatively involving compared to that of the Brazil communities (Grinder, 2006). In the ceremony in Malaysia, we find that so many people are invited to come and celebrate the rite of passage which is not the case in Brazil. It occurs that in Brazil the only people who are in the rite of passage ceremony are the initiates and their supervisors.
There are various similarities that can be noted among the cultures in Malaysia as well as those in Brazil that are common during the rites of passage for the adolescents. It is important to note that the rites of passage are held dearly in the cultures of the people in Brazil as well as in Malaysia. The meaning attached to the rites of passage is of vital significance in that it marks change of status in the community.
The rites of passage among the two cultures that are the Malaysia and Brazil involve a process that is painful and is carried out mostly among adolescents. In the two communities, the boys are the ones expected to undergo the rites of passage which prepare them to become warriors in the community as well as preparing them for responsibilities with regard to the new status as a man (Pinto, 2011). The pain experienced during the rites of passage is believed to be of crucial role in the two cultures in defining their warriors and men to be. The pain helps the society know the real character of the men to be to find out if they have the capacity to control their emotions and endure difficult times as warriors of the society. It is also worth noting that the rites of passage between the two cultures that is cultures in Brazil and in Malaysia are common in that the process help in distinguishing boys and men in the community.
After going through the rites of passage, the initiates in both communities assume new status and are treated with respect and honour by the different stakeholders in the communities they come from. There are various expectations that the two different communities have for the new men such as to inculcate the sense of responsibility, discipline and respect to all the members of the community regardless of their age (McCarthy, 2010).
Rites of passage have been found to be differing from one community to the other depending on people’s culture. From the above, it is clear that the cultures of communities in Malaysian are different from the culture of the people of Brazil. A point to note is that there are various differences and similarities between rites of passage in Brazil and in Malaysia. In Malaysia, the process is intensive and involving, where people are invited to come and celebrate during the ceremony, which is different in Brazil where it is less involving. The rites of passage in Malaysia are without doubt intensive and to some extent exaggerated, which is different from that of the cultures in Brazil which are relative concentrated to the initiate only. It is worth noting the value placed on the rites of passage process and what they mean with the transition process. The paper has analysed these similarities as well as the differences, and the whole concept of rites of passage into details.
Virtanen, P. K. (2012). Indigenous youth in Brazilian Amazonia: Changing lived worlds. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Pinto, N. R., & Baruzzi, R. G. (January 01, 2011). Male pubertal seclusion and risk of death in Indians from Alto Xingu, central Brazil. Human Biology, 63, 6, 821-34.
Grinder, R. E., & Englund, D. L. (January 01, 2006). Chapter V: Adolescence in Other Cultures. Review of Educational Research, 36, 4, 450-462.
McCarthy, S. N., de, S. L. K., & Jafaar, J. (2010). Rites of Passage: A Comparison of US, Malaysian and Brazilian Adolescents. 88-98.)