A rite of passage is a ceremony of the passage which occurs when an individual leaves one group to enter another. It involves a significant change of status in society. In cultural anthropology the term is the Anglicisation of rite de passagea French term innovated by the ethnographer Arnold van Gennep in his work Les rites de passage"The Rites of Passage".
In English, Van Gennep's first sentence of his first chapter begins: In addition, all these groups break down into still smaller societies in subgroups. The population of a society belongs to multiple groups, some Sexual rites of passage important to the individual than others.
Van Gennep uses the metaphor, "as a kind of house divided into rooms and corridors. Van Gennep further distinguishes between "the secular" and "the sacred sphere.
Passage between these groups requires a ceremonyor ritual hence rite of passage. The rest of Van Gennep's book presents a description of rites of passage and an organization into types, although in the end he despairs of ever capturing them all: He refuses credit for being the first to recognize type of rites.
In the work he concentrates on groups and rites individuals might normally encounter progressively: He mentions some others, such as the territorial passage, a crossing of borders into a culturally different region, such as one where a different religion prevails. Rites of passage have three phases: In the first phase, people withdraw from their current status and prepare to move from one place or status to another.
For example, the cutting of the hair for a person who has just joined the army. He or she is "cutting away" the former self: The transition liminal phase is the period between states, during which one has left one place or state but has not yet entered or joined the next.
In the third phase reaggregation or incorporation the passage Sexual rites of passage consummated [by] the ritual subject. Re-incorporation is characterized by elaborate rituals and ceremonies, like debutant balls and college graduation, and by outward symbols of new ties: Laboratory experiments have shown that severe initiations produce cognitive dissonance. Initiation rites are seen as fundamental to human growth and development as well as socialization in many African communities.
These rites function by ritually marking the transition of someone to full group membership. Initiation rites are "a natural and necessary part of a community, just as arms and legs are natural and necessary extension of the human body". These rites are linked to individual and community development. Manu Ampim identifies five stages; rite to birth, rite to adulthood, rite to marriage, rite to Sexual rites of passage and rite to ancestorship.
Rites of passage are diverse, and are found throughout many cultures around the world. Many western societal rituals may look like rites of passage but miss some of the important structural and functional components.