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How Maasai celebrate their rituals and ceremonies

June 26, 2020
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How Maasai celebrate their rituals and ceremonies

The Maasai people are one of the most popular known tribes internationally due to their presence in game parks, their dancing styles and their occupation near great lakes.

Their dressing attires are also distinctive and the celebration of their rituals is fascinating. The Maasai speak the Maa language and they are a part of the Nilotic group that is related to Kalenjin, Dinka Nuer.

They practice nomadic farming where they practice nomadic farming as they keep on moving where there is grass to feed their animals. The Maasai stay in ceremonial horses referred to as Emanyattas where they perform various ceremonies.

There are different ceremonies for the Maasai community such as Emuratta (circumcision), Eunoto for warriors, Eokoto e-kule for drinking milk. Moreover, during initiation occasions, they celebrate young boys and girls which is also known as leg fire marks not to mention Enkipaata for senior boys. Further, they celebrate marriage ceremonies(Enkiaama).

Traditionally Maasai used to circumcise both boys and girls but the government banned circumcision for girls. Therefore, circumcision for boys has continued to be the most valued ceremony for the Maasai community. The major celebrated ceremony in the Maasai community is Enkipaata(circumcision). This ceremony is exclusively organized by the fathers of the newly circumcised age group. The selected boys, aged between 14 to 16 years, move to the nearby region declaring the creation of their new age set. They move tandemly with some elders who provide counsel and guide them toward the start of new responsibilities in society. They also construct between 30 to 40 houses which they use for the performance of the initiation. A collection of 30-40 houses are built for the initiating boys. According to their culture, the houses are constructed in one central place that is chosen by Oloiboni who is their prophet. The prospective boys then elect their leader who is to carry all their sins. 

Before the day of the ceremony, all the boys sleep in the cold weather forest and during the following day early in the morning, they take a cold shower to cleanse themselves. The initiation ceremony takes place at the crack of dawn and it is performed by a qualified man with several years of experience. Although it is a painful experience, the other members of the family and especially males encourage the boys to be strong and not run away from the knife lest they are disowned. When the operation is completed, he is awarded livestock by the parents and friends of the initiated boys. The newly initiated boys take between 2- four months to heal and during this period, they wear black sheets.

Thereafter, they fully qualify to be warriors with the capacity to defend their community from any threat and attacks from their enemies. Healing is followed by the construction of Manyattas that serves the purpose of the warrior’s camp. The other ceremony which the Maasai celebrates is Eunoto that is done by the age set after ten years from circumcision. During this event, young warriors are welcomed into senior warriors and they are allowed to marry. The transitioning warriors are shaved by their mothers before the festival and it is conducted in large Emanyattas composed of forty-nine camps. During this event, warriors dance and sing to entertain Oloibon and the community. However, in this ceremony, no person is allowed to carry weapons including spear, knives and sticks.

To conclude, the Maasai community has a captivating celebration of their rituals and ceremonies that include; circumcision, marriage and junior elder celebration. Nevertheless, circumcision is the main ceremony which all people like to take part in. Consequently, when boys reach puberty, they begin preparing for circumcision by heading a large cattle for seven days and on the eighth day this is when they are initiated. Thereupon, the circumcised boys become warriors and assume the responsibility of security.

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