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Printed 01.07.2022 13:07

Old Age

De le phuren pativ, bo the jekhvar aveha phuro.
Be respectful to old people, you will be old one day.
Romani proverb

Due to the fact that the Roma identified so strongly with their families, and that the young and old lived together, the elderly often took a large part in the raising of their grandchildren. The elderly were respected by their children, and so by their grandchildren. Their opinion carried great weight and they were not considered unnecessary members of the family. The Roma also pay great attention to the customs around the death of any person.

The idea has survived to the present day that a deceased member of the family comes for someone who is dying, and stays with them until their funeral and then takes them away to the next world. The personal belongings of the deceased were placed in the coffin along with the body, even more valuable items like rings, earrings, watches, violins, guitars, but also pipes, cigarettes, glasses, bottles of alcohol, cards, and - if the deceased was a believer - also prayer books and rosaries. The family put money into the hand or pocket of the deceased (usually small coins). From the moment of death to the funeral, the relatives of the dead person would sit up with the body - keeping watch.

There were certain rules of behavior to follow during this period: the mourners played cards, told stories from the life of the deceased, but they couldn't sing, dance, or make toasts with their glasses. Before drinking their first drink, each person would spill a little out onto the ground in memory of the deceased. Some time after the funeral, each of the survivors had to go and visit the grave, to make it clear to the deceased how satisfied they had been with the funeral. The presence of the dead was revealed by various signs, sounds, and appearances in dreams.

Romani funerals were always distinctly expensive, particularily showy to the present day are those of the Wallachian Roma, where one may see coffins with glass lids, graves strewn with rare carpets, and so on.

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