Rites of Passage – A Photo Assignment on Nat Geo

Nat Geo Assignment: Rites of Passage - Kristian Bertel
Jaisalmeri child submitted to ‘Rites of Passage’ on National Geographic.


See the National Geographic photo assignments that Kristian Bertel has participated in – Read the story about his photographs here…

Kristian Bertel has contributed to the National Geographic Your Shot photo community with an assignment called ‘Rites of Passage‘.

The photo assignment curated by Jenn Poggi, an assistant professor at the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences photojournalist who in the assignment briefing is focusing on to ponder the sacred customs of significant moments, big and small, that exist in your life and in the communities around us. Other transitional life moments may only be recognized within a particular region, village, neighborhood or family. Some of these life moments are highly anticipated, while others may catch us by surprise and resonate in entirely unexpected ways.

As Jenn is saying it: ”- Challenge yourself to consider a broader understanding of what a rite of passage can be. Poignant moments. Take a moment to write thoughtful captions that provide important context to what is pictured. This kind of information is especially important for all of those unexpected images I know you’ll submit. The beauty of this global Your Shot community is that we can ponder the unique from around the world while also celebrating the universal. I can’t wait to see your pictures”, she says.


”Nearly every community on the planet has rites of passage that signal transition in the life of an individual. Important rites of passage may easily come to mind such as a coming-of-age ceremony, marriage, the arrival of your first child”


What is a rite of passage?
A rite of passage is a ceremony or ritual of the passage which occurs when an individual leaves one group to enter another. It involves a significant change of status in society. In cultural anthropology the term is innovated by an ethnographer in his work Les rites de passage, but the term is now fully adopted into anthropology as well as into the literature and popular cultures of many modern languages.

Phases in life
In the first phase, people withdraw from their current status and prepare to move from one place or status to another. The first phase of separation comprises symbolic behavior signifying the detachment of the individual or group from an earlier fixed point in the social structure. There is often a detachment or ‘Cutting away’ from the former self in this phase, which is signified in symbolic actions and rituals. For instance, the cutting of the hair for a person who has just joined the army. He or she is “Cutting away” the former self the civilian.

The transition which is a liminal phase is the period between states, during which one has left one place or state but has not yet entered or joined the next.

In the third phase where the reaggregation or incorporation take place, is the passage is consummated by the ritual subject. Having completed the rite and assumed their ‘New’ identity, one re-enters society with one’s new status. Re-incorporation is characterized by elaborate rituals and ceremonies, like debutant balls and college graduation, and by outward symbols of new ties, thus in rites of incorporation there is widespread use of the ‘Sacred bond’, the ‘Sacred cord’, the knot and of analogous forms such as the belt, the ring, the bracelet and the crown. Initiation rites are seen as fundamental to human growth and development as well as socialization in many Indian communities.

”These rites function by ritually marking the transition of someone to full group membership. It also links individuals to the community and the community to the broader and more potent spiritual world. Initiation rites are a natural and necessary part of a community, just as arms and legs are natural and necessary extension of the human body”


About the photograph
Kristian Bertel participated with one of his photos from India, which depicts a Jaisalmeri child on the streets in Jaisalmer. ”- Our cultural identity is shaped by the people within our culture and our surroundings to better understand our world. We create a mold of our cultural identity and are finding out who we are through the ideas of our parents by adopting a majority of their beliefs at a young age”, Kristian Bertel says.


    You might also like:

Assignments and Stories — National Geographic Your Shot »
Your Shot Photo Community — National Geographic »
Kristian Bertel’s entire gallery on Your Shot »
Showcase of Kristian Bertel’s Your Shot »
Nat Geo Assignment: Keep Still »
Kristian Bertel’s website »


    Tags:   #india   #travel   #portraits