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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

becoming a man…

haus man 010        I’m sure all of you had some pretty interesting stuff come to mind when you read this blog title. But nothing quite like this. When boys get to be about 15 or so their parents decide it is time for them to become a man. The community then decides who will be sent into the haus man. The haus man is a house that the candidates live in for 4-6 weeks. They are not allowed to go away from the house. Women and children are not allowed near the house. Men from the village stay with them and teach them all sorts of stuff that men should know. One of the great things about the haus man that just happened here is that parts of it that were animistic in the past have been redeemed and reworked to include their Christian beliefs.

        Every night, morning and lunch they had the local pastors come and teach the boys how to do devotions and family worship time. It was out of good fortune that our house was closer to the house man than any other house on the mountain. At night Tiffany and I would lay in bed and listen to the boys sing praise songs. Also very lucky for us they could all sing very well.

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      Part of the deal is that they can only eat dry food ( food cooked in the fire) for the whole time they are in there. So, as you can see some of their stomachs are sunken in when they come out.

     Coming out is a big deal. Everyone in the village spends the whole week before getting ready. I made several trips to other villages some distance away to buy pigs for the feast. Garden vegetables are gathered in mounds and rice is bought by the 10kg bag. 

     The boys (new men) and all the men who helped to train them paint themselves with red paint that they make from the seeds of a plant. They put on all of their bilas (leaves, pig tusks, chains, beads, and so on and so on) and march into the village. By this time everyone has gathered to see them. they march in a circle and the women and children are not allowed any where near them. Because Tiffany is pregnant they said she had to stay especially far away or it would mess up the baby.

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     After this they go back out of the village to drink water (for the first time in days), get a little strength back and then come back. Then everyone in the village can come and shake their hands and congratulate them. Once this is over every one has the opportunity to standup and give them advice about being a man (yell at them). When that is over then and only then can the feast begin.

      this also serves as a great time for the village to relax together and tell stories (bonding time). We had a great time and are looking forward to the one in December (it happens twice a year) they are going to have a singsing (Broadway PNG style) then.


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