Apache Essay, Research Paper
Every day someone enters into a rite of passage whether it be by starting school, a new job, marriage, a confirmation or communion rites of passage are common place. Two totally different cultures have totally different rituals and rites of passage. The Apache would most definitely have incredibly unique rituals compared to rural Maine and the catholic cultures therein. The best way to see the differences is to compare the two different cultures.
Each ritual occurs in a holy place, the Apache on ritual grounds and the Confirmation rights at a specific congregation. The person who is about to participate in confirmation has gone to months of classes to prepare for this day, CCD it is titled and it is typically on a Sunday night at this particular congregation. The Apache girl has been well prepared as well, running and doing specific training exercises so that she will be ready for the grueling Sunrise Dance. In both societies the participant undergoes this ritual specifically because their parents and elders tell them to. They are too young to defy their parents or elders and submit basically because of the special knowledge that will somehow change them and prepare them for adulthood.
The Apache girl has a godmother and godfather, which has no relation to her per say (blood relation), they are chosen based on their status in their society and they become a sort of guiding light for this girl during her Dance and adulthood all the way to when she is old and gray. The confirmation child has to choose his “sponsor” who is typically a relative or someone very special to him. This person also has a big part in the confirmation, guiding the child and being a big support center for the child.
The reason for the Apache girl to start her Sunrise Dance is because of her first womanly cycle. She has a grueling task ahead of her when the Dance begins. She has a week of ritual ahead and much strenuous tasks. Her family, before participating must have about 10,000 dollars so that they can afford the gifts, food, etc. During the ritual the girl has absolutely no baths and isn’t allowed to touch herself except with a stick. She isn’t allowed to drink except with a straw. She is also allowed very little sleep during the week of her specific dance. During a specific part of the ritual her grandmother massages her body, which signifies a strong life ahead for this thirteen year old girl. During the most strenuous parts of the ritual the young girl is believed to change into a deity called “Changing Woman”. The whole community reaffirms their identity through the dance. Saturday is specifically dedicated to the godmother while Sunday is the godfather’s day. The girl, while awake is never allowed to stop dancing, even on her knees at the end when she has to prove that she is fully ready for womanhood. She is painted on her face and must stand up only with the aid of eagle feathers. The gifts that are given are of varying value, but they definitely don’t all have to do with the religious purpose, TV’s VCR’s and other electronic devices are given here.
The confirmation is a much different ritual. It is not individual. There is a whole group of kids going through the ritual at the same time. They all have sponsors standing next to, or behind them during the whole ritual. The main difference of immediate comparison to be made is that of the girl speaking and saying she will remember the ritual for the rest of her life. Here, about 8 years later, I don’t even remember specifics about the rite of confirmation. The family time had during a ritual such as this can not be had during normal everyday experiences. The whole lot to be confirmed marches in, marriage style and lines up in the first two rows of the church. The priest then says a few words and the confirmation mass continues as normal mass. With communion and all the normal prayers from the bible along with a few readings picked specifically for confirmation masses. The readings are usually read by a few of the children to be confirmed. At the end of the mass special prayers are said for the confirmed by everyone in the congregation and the confirmed emerge as adults. The party thereafter includes many gifts of varying value that have to do with religion and crosses etc. The sad thing about this ritual is that some kids participate in it because they know once they are confirmed they have the right whether or not to go to church from that day fourth. They are considered adults that have the right frame of mind to make the choice whether or not to continue the prayers and rituals their parents and elders have taught them to believe so highly in.
The two are extremely different. The Apache girl has something she will remember for the rest of her life, with vivid emotion and extreme pain to make her realize her passage. The confirmed have a choice to make, go to church, continue the faith, or don’t. An extreme difference. To compare with Turner the Apache girl emerges reborn as a woman while during the ritual she has identity as changing woman to show she is ready to make her full journey into womanhood. Turner agrees, the individual has no status during the ritual, secluded, by herself, invisible. She is not so invisible during this ritual, more on display than anything. Confirmation makes everyone feel special in their own way. The group is a group, but not of nobody’s, of children ready to make the journey into adulthood. In most catholic cultures this is seen as their official ritual of adulthood. Turner sees the end of the ritual as a rebirth. Both societies, the Apache and the Catholic culture definitely view this as a rebirth. The Apache seems more special because of the individuality that ensues with the Sunrise Dance. Confirmation is a rebirth into adulthood, but not alone, you are supported by all your classmates and friends. The reason that any young child submits to authority, other than fear, is because they know and realize that they can achieve great knowledge by listening to them and abiding by their practices. Because, look where it got them, at least to the age they are!
Ritual changes people for better or worse, either way a change has been made and you aren’t the same after the ritual ends. The Apache girl has something she can tell her grandkids about, she has a vivid incredible memory that will never leave her. The confirmed has a memory too, a family time that brings people together, and we all know we love family time regardless of what occurs within we are happy to see that aunt uncle, and cousin we haven’t seen in so long. Rituals are times that should bring people together and change them for the better, as well as prepare them for the long roads ahead.