woman ceremony Tradition / Ritual in The River | World Anvil
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woman ceremony

In the women's villages, the rights and responsibilities of adulthood are reserved for girls who have proved themselves to be women by giving birth to a live female baby.  The woman ceremony is a rite of passage marking a girl's acceptance into the women of her village.


The ceremony takes place in front of an empty hut site that has been prepared with a pile of cut saplings and pipe tree sticks. All females in the village gather for the ceremony. The girls and women each gather in a semicircle, facing each other but with a gap between. The mami of the new woman carries the new baby along the girls' semicircle and asks each girl in turn if the baby belongs to her. When the baby's mami claims her, she gives her first girl a name. The girls disperse, and the new woman is led to the semicircle of women, which closes into a tight ring around her.
The new woman's mami presents her with the women's breast wrap, clothing her daughter for the last time. When this is done, Woman Woman and all the other women in turn introduce themselves by their secret woman names, ending with the new woman's mami, who reveals the woman name she chose for her daughter. The new woman must then come up with a woman name for her first girl that she and the other women will keep secret until the day the baby becomes a woman herself.
The women then raise the skeleton of a new hut from the pile of building materials, and usher the new woman inside. The new woman's mami places a live coal from her own fire into the new hut's hearth. In possession of a baby, a breast wrap, and a hut, she is recognized fully as a woman of the village.


All females have a role, however minor, in publicly accepting the name of the new baby and the status of the new woman.  The other women each have the responsibility of remembering the first girl's name.  The mature girls, though they may not participate in the women's part of the ceremony, are responsible for keeping the younger children occupied elsewhere so they do not interrupt or overhear.
The most significant role belongs to that of the new woman's former mami. In taking the five actions, she releases her daughter from the status of childhood. Passing the baby into her arms gives her a woman's authority over children, and ends the requirement of her obedience. Putting on the breast wrap gives her the responsibilty of caring for her baby, and ends the freedom of playing games. Revealing her woman name gives her the right to call her mami by name, and ends her exclusion from women's affairs. Leading the other women in raising the hut gives her permission to ask any woman for help, and ends her association with children as peers. Giving her fire in her own hut gives her responsibility for herself and her girl, and ends her dependence on her mami.


The woman ceremony is held three days after the girl gives birth, if the baby is still alive.  It can be delayed if the weather is dangerous.
Related Ethnicities

View from the future

During the migration downriver, the woman ceremony was opened to any girl giving birth to her first baby, regardless of sex.  A slightly modified version was also performed for boys who had fathered their first child.  As the Oceanic Era progressed and women more often gave birth at sea, the ceremony was reduced to only the naming and was incorporated into the traditions surrounding the birth itself.   Legally, adulthood no longer depends on parenthood, but people who don't have children still have slightly less social standing than those who do.

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