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Life orientation

Grade 6

Rights and responsibilities

Module 8

The meaning and importance of various stages in a person’s life (rites of passage) within different cultures in south africa

Rites of passage relate to personal events that we celebrate. They refer to important milestones in our lives, e.g. birth, coming of age, marriage and death.

Although these events are very personal, they often also have a meaning for the group or community within which they occur. The specific ceremonies relating to these rites are usually determined by the culture and religion of the group. Tradition plays an important role in this regard.

In the table is a brief summary of four different cultures’ customs pertaining to a rite of passage.

  1. Birth
Christian customs Baptism: A holy sacrament during which water is dripped on his/her head.
Muslim customs Doepmal: Allah’s name is whispered in the baby’s ear immediately after his/her birth. A prayer, the Athaan, is said.
Zulu customs Place of worship: The umbilical cord of a Zulu baby is buried under a tree. It remains a special place for that child and binds him/her to nature in a special way.
Jewish customs Briss: This is the circumcision of a baby boy by a Rabbi a few days after the baby’s birth.

b) Coming of age

Christian customs Confession of faith. In many Christian churches young people confess their faith as responsible adults.
Hindu customs Wearing a sari: Once they have entered puberty, girls may wear a sari to functions and religious ceremonies.
Ndebele customs Wela: Every four years, in a full-moon phase between April and June, young Ndebele men are inducted at this ceremony. “Wela” means ‘to cross the river’ and refers specifically to their circumcision. They also learn about the tribe and are taught its age-old rituals.
Jewish customs Barmitzvah: Boys celebrate their reaching maturity at the age of 13 by reading from the Holy Torah during the Sabbath service. In the Reformed Jewish faith, girls celebrate their barmitzvah at the age of 12 during a service in the synagogue.

Activity 1:

To discuss various traditions in the community

[lo 2.4]

The first two tables have been completed for you. You must now discuss among yourselves traditions in your cultural community, find out about the customs of other cultural groups with regard to:

c) Marriage

d) Death

Activity 2:

To portray cultural ceremonies and rites

[lo 2.4]

Optional assignment :

Learners could demonstrate or portray some of the colourful ceremonies and rites of their culture in the classroom. Special food or dishes that they eat during such a ceremony could serve as an example of cultural customs. In some cultures, beautiful costumes are worn during ceremonies – have a special exhibition of these costumes.


Learning outcomes (LOs)
LO 2
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENTThe learner will be able to demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to constitutional rights and responsibilities, and to show an understanding of diverse cultures and religions.
Assessment standards(ASs)
We know this when the learner:
2.1 reflects on own application of children’s rights as stated in the South African Constitution;
2.2 discusses and evaluates the significance of a nation-building programme associated with a national day;
2.3 discusses effects of gender stereotyping, sexism and abuse on personal and social relationships;
2.4 interprets the meaning and personal and social significance of important stages in the individual’s life in a variety of cultures;
2.5 discusses the dignity of the person in a variety of religions in South Africa.

Questions & Answers

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Source:  OpenStax, Life orientation grade 6. OpenStax CNX. Sep 07, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11003/1.1
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