Many cultures mark different stages in life with certain ceremonies. In America, we have baby showers, sweet 16 celebrations, and wedding anniversaries. In other parts of the world, naming and puberty ceremonies are also common milestone celebrations. And even within different countries, customs can vary from region to region, and traditions may differ slightly. Below are a few puberty ceremonies from around the world and a brief explanation of each custom. It is interesting to see how puberty is approached and viewed in these varying countries. Some celebrations are even as extravagant as weddings — their importance clearly weighs heavily for families.
1. Sri Lanka
It is home to many different cultures, including a strong Tamil population. When a girl gets her first period, it is celebrated in a lavish way with a Tamil puberty ceremony. The puberty ceremony is celebrated with friends and members who usually bring gifts. On the first day of her period, the young girl is bathed by close relatives, kept in isolation, and fed extravagant foods. After her isolation, she is given another bath, and then dressed up in a sari along with jewelry. The sari is significant in that it symbolizes her now becoming a mature woman.
In the eastern region of Ghana, the Krobo people celebrate puberty rites with a festival called "Dipo" — celebrated in the month of April. The festival is to initiate girls into adolescence because it is believed that girls who participate in this ritual before they ever have any sort of sexual contact with a man will be good wives. The girls are decorated in beads and wear a cloth around their waist. The significance of being half-clothed denotes their transition into adulthood. After this ceremony, no one besides their husbands will see them like this again. The ceremony is two days, and the girls have a portion of their heads shaved, are given a bath in a river, and are fed foods such as sugar cane and peanuts.
In Japan, people celebrate both men and women in what’s known as a "Seijin Shiki" ceremony. It’s a coming of age ceremony for people when they are approximately 20 years old. Girls dress up in kimonos and boys in traditional Japanese clothing or black suits. It is similar to a prom, and after the ceremony, both men and women cerebrate by going to parties sans alcohol.
In one of the smallest provinces in Indonesia, Bali, when a boy or girl is of certain of age they have a tooth filing ceremony called a "mesangih" or "mepandes"; it usually occurs in July and August. In Balinese culture, the ceremony is said to help people rid themselves from the forces of evil: desire, greed, and anger. Only four incisors and two canines are filed. It takes place before the sun rises, and the pubescent boy or girl is accompanied by religious songs. The filing is done by a priest, and the mouth usually numbed before, but the process is considered painless.