Rituals in Modern and Ancient Society - Research Paper Example

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Conducting rituals is a consistent need of being human. Since the first man walked this Earth, human beings have created rituals to celebrate or observe some of the most astounding moments in life, such as birth, the transition to adulthood, and death. …
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Rituals in Modern and Ancient Society
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Download file to see previous pages While many of these rituals have stayed with our species since they were originally constructed so many eons ago, not all of them have retained the same structure. Our human race is prided in its ability to adapt to changes in time and circumstances, and our rituals are not exempt from this fact. By looking at the ancient rituals of birth and the transition to adulthood, and then comparing them to our modern practices, one can see how our society has adapted our rituals to match the changes of the human race.
The rituals surrounding birth are perhaps the ones that have seen the most change throughout time. In the early years of the human race, the complete process of birth, from conception to the birth of the child, was not wholly understood. Without physicians or a sound understanding of the workings of the human body, people were not immediately aware of how a child was conceived. As such, this beautiful miracle of life was truly that to early civilizations - a miracle. A pregnant woman was revered by the whole society, and the birth of the child was a celebration that everyone partook. As science and medicine advanced, providing insight into the functions of the body that allow for conception and birth, rituals were altered to acknowledge these natural, wondrous processes.
In ancient Greece, birthing rituals were based on superstitious belief. The room in which the mother would give birth would be checked for knots, which were believed to delay or prevent birth. Once the mother went into labor, she would crouch over a birthing stool where two midwives would massage her stomach and a third would be waiting to catch the baby. After the birth of the baby, both mother and child would be cleaned as birth blood was thought to be unlucky. A sign would then be made on the baby’s forehead to protect them from curses caused by the evil eye (Byrne, 2006). In China during the late 1800s, a Taoist priest would whisper prayers to the mother while she was in labor to encourage an easy birth. After the child was born, they would not be washed for three days to diminish any influences of evil. Zuni Indians of the 1890s conducted birth in silence; despite the pain she no doubt experienced, a woman in labor was not allowed to speak. Instead, the women of her family would groan and cry for her. Six days after the birth, the child would be presented to the Zuni gods, a ceremony attended by all members of the tribe. In ancient Indonesia and Malaysia, women were not allowed medicine for pain relief, and the birth took place within the home since the first cry of the baby was in loyalty to the parents and should be heard in the home. A priest would whisper prayers and scriptures to the child so that the first words the baby would hear would be those of faith. Many of these rituals have withstood the sands of time, though they may not be immediately recognizable. The major difference between birthing rituals in ancient times and in modern times is that the practices of the ancient were required, while women in the modern era are virtually unlimited in how they give birth (Rouhier-Willoughby, 2003). Midwives are common, though not necessarily required, and they help soothe the mother and make the delivery easier. In some religious settings, a priest is present to bless both child and mother. Some women do not use medication during birth, fearing that the medication might harm their child, and the location of the birth varies from one woman to another. Many are conducted in the maternity wards of hospitals, some are done in special birthing centers that promote natural births, and others are done in bathtubs in the homes of the mothers-to-be. After the birth of a child, the next milestone in their life is the transition into adulthood. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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