GRE Issue Essay 36
“Rituals and ceremonies help define a culture. Without them, societies or groups of people have a diminished sense of who they are.”
A particular society or a group of people at a particular place who share a common set of knowledge and values is defined as a culture. There are numerous cultures existing in the world. They differ from each other in the languages they use, the food habits they have, the norms followed by them, their religions and their festivals. These constitute the cultural differences that differentiate one culture from the other. Therefore, these cultural differences, consisting of rituals and ceremonies, help in defining a culture. If these cultural differences did not exist, then there would have been no differences among various cultures and the people who formed a part of a particular culture would have been unaware of who they actually were.
Since time immemorial, man has always lived in groups and societies. Each society developed a culture of its own by setting certain traditions, rituals and ceremonies that were followed by the people who were a part of that society. As time passed, the societies of the world drew closer to each other and intermingled with each other. There are people who travel to different continents in pursuit of either education or a career. However, it has been seen that people may be living in any part of the world but they will always celebrate festivals and carry out ceremonies that are specific to their cultures and religions. This firmly establishes the fact that people are able to preserve their cultures by sticking to their rituals and ceremonies.
The multi-cultural world of today makes it essential for each culture to adhere to its rituals and ceremonies so as to bring the people of the culture together and bind them by a common thread. This is because the intermingling of cultures has made people drift away from their cultures. A Japanese child born and brought up in France may perhaps know more about French culture than his own Japanese culture. However, his parents will try their level best to acquaint him with Japanese culture even when they are living in a foreign land. This is because it is through Japanese rituals and ceremonies that the child will come to know who he actually is.
Consider a country like the USA where there are residents who come from different countries from across the world. How are these people differentiated from each other? How is everyone aware of his antecedents? Are these people aware of who they really are and where their roots lie? The answers to all these questions lie in the fact that the cultures of these people make them different from each other and it is their culture that helps them to know who they really are. If all the people had the same culture, then there would have been no means of differentiation between them and the others and with the passage of time, people would have lost track of who they initially were and where they came from.
Everyone needs an identity of his own. Can you live without a name? Similarly, each culture needs an identity that differentiates it from other cultures of its time. The rituals and the ceremonies of a culture help in defining that particular culture. If people do not follow the customs and traditions of a culture, the culture will be lost as the coming generations would be unaware of who they are.