Religions mark out practitioners’ lives through rites of passage, from birth to death.

They provide rituals, encounters, and words to celebrate transitions such as baptism, circumcision, first communion, puberty, entry into a monastery, marriage, and death.

This exhibition space is made up of photographs and documents. Actor Francine Ruel describes her first communion in the 1950s.

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A rite imposed by God

Philadelphia, United States — In the Jewish community, boys are circumcised eight days after birth. The rite of circumcision, imposed by God on Abraham and his descendants, is a means of com¬memorating and reaffirming the alliance between God and his people.

© David H. Welles/CORBIS vers 1997

Entry Into Manhoood

Kenya — Young Masai eat the carcass of a goat during a rite of passage that marks their entry into manhood. The Masai are among the African peoples who practise a tribal religion that is specific to them.

© Yann Arthus-Bertrand /CORBIS 1984

Hindu Cremation in the Ganges River

India — Hindu cremation in the Ganges River. Since wood has become scarce and expensive, not everyone can afford cremation.

© Bojan Brecelj/CORBIS 1960-1996

Entry into the State of Marriage

Most religions attempt to set boundaries on sexuality and to endow it with a sacral significance. A wedding, a solemn occasion where family ties are established, renders sexual activity legitimate, even sacred. The gods themselves are often invited to the ceremony.

© Roy McMahon/CORBIS, 2003

Theme of the Day


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Tell us about a religious holiday that is significant to you.

    • joe
    • August 22nd, 2012
    Christmas, because it brings family together, whether religious or not.
    • Sam
    • June 20th, 2012
    Even though I'm not sure God exists, I celebrate Easter and Christmas. These two holidays are an affirmation of how God really does love all of us. I have prayed many years but still have had no inspiration. I guess some people just have to wait. I hope I'll get a sign soon.
    • Anurb
    • April 15th, 2012
    The trees, the birds, the grass, the sun...nature in all her beauty. She is my God(dess).
    • GMD
    • April 10th, 2012
    April 21 Ridvan commemorating the day in 1863 when Baha'u'llah declared His Mission to the world. Since then His followers have encircled the earth with His love and unity.