Rituals of the World

Rituals of the World

15 Episodes

Fire dancing in Papua New Guinea or climbing to the top of the Ethiopian cliffs to introduce one’s child to God: this series reveals how some people today still practice rituals that structure their lives and become, beyond a simple social bond, a structuring force and a source of culture. Anthropologist, Anne-Sylvie Malbrancke, helps us understand and experience these moments with those who practice them.

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Rituals of the World
  • Peru: Masters of Chaos

    Episode 1

    Anthropologist Anne-Sylvie Malbrancke goes to meet Jenny, a young Peruvian who has crossed the whole country to ask the sacred lakes to heal her health problem. For more than 700 years, shamans have drawn their power to heal from the Huaringas, sacred lagoons located on the border of Peru and Ecu...

  • Samoa: Tattoo Heritage

    Episode 2

    The tattooing practiced in Samoa is not comparable to the fashionable trend in Europe. In Samoa, tattooing is above all a rite signifying that the individual belongs to a group, and it is extremely painful. The more painful it is, the more Stivi approaches the state of a real, accomplished man.

  • Haiti: The Carnival of Specters

    Episode 3

    Every year in Jacmel, on the south coast of Haiti, festivities take on an intensity that is not found elsewhere. The Haitians do not depict dream-like characters in their parades, but instead monsters or specters. This is a way for them to deal with the difficulties of the past, and also those of...

  • Seville: Holy Week

    Episode 4

    Holy Week is one of the most important rituals in Christianity. During the week before Easter, it celebrates the death and then resurrection of Christ. In Seville, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, dozens of processions take place, each one led by one of the 60 brotherhoods in the city.

  • Bolivia: Fighting for the Pachamama

    Episode 5

    Every May, thousands of Quechuas, farming people of the high plateaus, converge on Macha for what is no doubt one of the most spectacular and violent rituals in America, Tinku: a fertility ritual in the form of a fight. The blood shed is supposed to feed Pachamama, the Earth mother. She is respon...

  • Saintes Maries de la Mer: Traveler Pride

    Episode 6

    Every year on 24 May, traveling folk from all around Europe come to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in southern France for a great festive ritual to honor Saint Sara, their patron, who was a persecuted servant. The travelers identify with her. For a week, between 8-10,000 travelers flock to this town in...

  • Ethiopia: A Baptism in the Sky

    Episode 7

    In the Tigray region of Ethiopia, Orthodox Christians confront their fears and baptize their children in churches perched high in the sky at 800 meters in the troglodyte church of Abuna Yemata Guh. The climb is difficult and extremely dangerous.

  • Myanmar: The Cult of the Nats

    Episode 8

    Every year in Tangbyon, an important ritual sees thousands of Burmans come to ask their mediums to dance, so they may contact the Nats, spirits that are able to offer them a better future. In this country, where homosexuality is still illegal, the ritual provides a space where homosexuals, transv...

  • Madagascar: Partying with the Dead

    Episode 9

    In Madagascar, from July to September, the inhabitants of the island profit from the dry season to organize a traditional rite: the Famadihana, or the “return of the dead”. During the ceremony, the bodies are removed from the vault and the descendants happily carry the exhumed body of the decease...

  • Guatemala: Kites for the Dead

    Episode 10

    On 1 November in the cemeteries of the Sacatépequez region of Guatemala, the people are not sad for the dead. They communicate with the deceased in a unique and poetic way, using kites. The Guatemalans talk to their ancestors through strings and small pieces of colored paper, fluttering in the wind.

  • Ethiopia: Jumping into Adult Life

    Episode 11

    “Ukuli Bula” is a bull jumping ceremony. The idea is to jump three times over a series of bulls lined up in a row, without falling over. If the young man, or Ukuli fails, he will be mocked by the village and will not be able to marry.

  • Amazonia: Becoming a Man

    Episode 12

    In the heart of the Amazon rainforests of Brazil, the Sateré-Mawé people have a rite of passage to adulthood where a show of bravery turns boys into men. According to tribe members, this painful initiation prepares the young men for life and proves they are capable of fulfilling their reproductio...

  • India: From Girl to Woman

    Episode 13

    “First marriage and then love.” This Indian proverb describes Indian society fairly accurately, and how the tradition of marriage is experienced in the country. In India, people don’t just marry whoever they want. It is the family that decides, and most marriages are arranged. It is called the Sh...

  • India: Festival of Colors

    Episode 14

    Colored powder breaks down the barriers between people. Since Antiquity, to mark the spring equinox, the whole of India celebrates Holi, the festival of colors. During this celebration, Indians of all castes throw colored powder in the faces of those they meet.

  • Papua New Guinea: The Fire Dance

    Episode 15

    When a person dies, or to celebrate a harvest or important visit, The Baining tribesmen go to make masks that represent the spirit of the forest which their ancestors have seen in caves in the jungle. A great fire is lit in the village. Dancers wearing the masks come and dance around the fire and...