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The Tibetans have Lamaism as their religion, which is an integration of the native Tibetan religion (Bon) and Mahayana Buddhism (Kapstein, p38).
In a general perspective, the basic rite of passage for the Tibetans is the sticking of a tiny piece of Tibetan’s staple food (zamba) on the newborn’s forehead. This is perceived as the process of purification of the newborn. Additionally, when the baby is a month old, the parents are bound to paint the tip of its (baby’s) nose with soot as a sign of prevention from ghosts, whereas the relatives and parents of the baby going to the monastery to pray for protection from the Buddha. This is the general rite of passage of newborn babies, regardless of the gender.
At a later age, that is, at the age of twelve, a Tibetan girl’s hair is combed into two braids. The braids are later advanced in to three, at the age of thirteen and/or fourteen, and five braids at the age of fifteen and/or sixteen (Kapstein, p67). However, the girl’s hair is combed into dozens of braids at the age of seventeen to signify the initiation into adulthood. In the Tibetan culture, changes in hair are used to mark the several rites of passage for the girl child (Kapstein, p67). According to research, hair changing ceremonies conducted for the Tibetan girls deliberate on the social status of the girls (Kapstein, p85).
The hair changing ceremony for the Tibetan girls signifies that the girls are old enough to raise and cater for families, and hence they are ready to accept marriage proposals, and are ready to get married (Kapstein, p85). As a matter of fact, the Tibetan boys tend to court the girls after the hair changing ceremony, with intentions of sleeping with them and propose marriage. Research also indicates that hair dressers were strictly married women, who were carefully selected as per their beauty, perfect eyesight, and/or intact teeth
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