Puberty Ceremony

Kinaalda

One ceremony Navajo maidens have is called the kinaalda. The kinaalda is conducted when a Navajo girl comes into her womanhood, which is signaled by her first menses.  This is a traditional Navajo puberty ceremony.

You will not see signs for these ceremonies and they are by invitation only. If you are invited to attend one, you will not be the only non-Indian. Usually, most Navajos will invite their non-Indian friends to watch.

The kinaalda occurs over a four-day period, and many components will come together for the well-being of the Navajo female patient. Several people will have official roles in the four-day ceremony, such as a medicine man or woman, and their helpers. The family will select a well-respected and honorable Navajo female who will help the young maiden over the course of the ceremony. This female will give the girl guidance, advice, and share her wisdom with the patient so she will know what is expected of her in life as a Navajo lady.

The main action of the kinaalda is to offer prayers through songs and meditation. Many family members will help throughout the ceremony by chopping wood, cooking, donating food and items, and will participate with many good thoughts and prayers. During the ceremony, the maiden is guided to conduct herself in a manner that will be indicative of her life and how she will handle being a Navajo female with respect, honor, and harmony.

If an invitation is offered to attend this ceremony, it is suggested that the guest bring a gift of food and to observe with respect and silence. Questions one may have should be directed to the mother of the kinaalda and her female relatives and/or the medicine person when appropriate

During the prayers, songs, and talks, one should not interrupt and should remain respectfully silent and out of the way when inside the ceremonial Hogan or the home site area. Appropriate attire calls for dressing modestly and covering of skin is recommended. It is suggested if you are uncertain, you may ask for guidance on how to proceed or act.

 

A book about the Navajo puberty ceremony.