While the Nacirema have many strange and confusing rites of passage, there is one that is worse than all the rest. It is a challenge that all young Nacirema people must face before they can become adults. This challenge is known as the dezidradants tset. .
While this can come in many forms, the most fearsome is the TCA. This ritual is meant to determine the intelligence of the Nacirema youths, and will be used to determine their place in the society. If they do well they can hope to someday become holy mouth men, or hold another high place in the tribe, while those that do not succeed in the tset are doomed to be at the bottom of the society, unless they have some special skills that can win them favor among the others. I was allowed to observe this strange ritual, and found it most curious.
The adolescents of the Nacirema community are all awakened early in the morning and must arrive at the ritual site before the sun rises. If they arrive late they are excluded from the group and will not be able to complete the challenge with their peers. Thos who make it there in time are shut in a room and separated from each other. It is a silent ritual, and any who speak are exiled in shame. The poor individuals are then given a short amount of time to draw many circles on a sheet. They must try to decipher the code and put the circles in the correct pattern on the sheet. For many of them this is a very stressful task, because it is a very complex pattern, and many leave the ritual room with a haunted look.
In this strange ritual, the results are not evident right away. The patterns are so complex that they must be sent away to a secret place where the enlightened ones reside. These special few have been given the secret of the patterns and must check the patterns that the adolescents created their intelligence is decided based on how closely their patterns resemble the correct ones, after months of careful checking and waiting the teenagers are finally told the results, so that they may start planning their future accordingly. This time is full of tears and many of the teenagers become depressed if they were deemed unintelligent. The fortunate few who were judged to be intelligent can be identified by the looks of relief and happiness at their bright futures. It is possible to go through this torture again and be judged again, but not many will dare it.
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