Rites of Passage – Marriage Ritual


The different rites of passage show the means by which societies effect transitions in the life of an individual from one social identity to another. That is, the rites of passage mark the time when an individual reaches a new and significant change in his/her life.The individuals are pushed into new responsibilities, which are unfamiliar and usually are uncertain of their new status. The rites of passage help people to understand their new roles in the society (Plunka, 2012).

This paper looks into initiation rituals, for example, the rite of marriage in which the rite or the ceremony is held to observe individuals entry into a new stage of life from the three phases of the rites of passage. The initiation ritual marks an acceptance or entrance into a group or a society. It depicts a formal admission to adulthood in a society.

Separation Phase

The first stage of the rite of passage is the loss of identity. It is usually abrupt or violent in nature, ruptures ties to family, self, community. For the ritual of marriage, this phase marks by symbolic actions thereby giving emphasis on the separation or detachment for the individuals who are participating in the rite from a previous status (Holm & Bowker, 2011). That is, the couple moves away from their familiar environment and former roles and then enter a very different routine they need to familiarize with.

Transition Phase

This is the stage where the couple in the marriage has lost their old identity, though, have not yet been fully re-incorporated into the community with the new identity. This phase prepares the individuals of the new status they are soon to assume (Mann, 2009). For instance, the time when the couple learns about the new stage of life will soon get into –marriage.

Incorporation Phase

This last stage ensures that the participants of the rite of passage move out of isolation and then back to the community with a new identity. For instance, when the individuals are now married they take a different and new role of marriage.


The ritual of marriage represents the launching of the most universal institution –the family. There is great diversity in the rituals by which marriage is celebrated with respect to the cultures they are part of. The undertaking of the marriage ritual in the broader aspect of the rite of passage is basically to celebrate and strengthen the couple’s unity and their kin network (Good, 2010). Additionally, by their religious dimension, the performance of the ritual helps reinforce the meaning of the event.

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