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Romani Culture

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Essay title: Romani Culture

Culture exists in every society. It is the specific learned norms based on attitudes, values and beliefs. Culture is often based on long standing traditions that have been passed from elders to the younger generation. It can be evolved through societal and religious influences. Changing culture, though difficult, can be done through choice or imposition. When cultures are isolated they tend to stabilize and change is slow or ceases. When culture makes contact with other cultures, a type of cultural borrowing takes place and is more prominent when languages are similar. There are different cultures with many different beliefs and opinions which can cause a person or another culture to clash. This problem can results in racism, discrimination, or stereotypes.

The Romani culture, for example, is a very unique culture that suffers a great deal of persecution. Due to their tendency to frequently move, the Romany people have repeatedly been called the degrading name, gypsies. Other names in which they have been known by include “Tisane, Tisane, Cigna, Iguana, and others” (Curbed, November 1996). Their nomadic lifestyle and unusual characteristics have caused a great deal of distrust with other cultures.

The Romani ethnic group can be traced back over one thousand years ago to the subcontinent of India. The group has migrated from India since that time and can now be found in many countries around the world. The Romani’s like to call themselves by Rom or Roma according in which tribe they belong to. It is made clear that they have no affiliation with the country of Romania or the city of Rome rather they are their own distinct and unrelated entity.

The Romani group has partaken in several major migrations in which they are noted for. “First was the initial break from India, next known as Aresajipe, was the move from Asia to Europe in the 14th century, and third was the migration from Europe to the Americas in the 19th and early 20th centuries” (Courbet, November 1996). Besides those major transfers many believe there are other countless and less major moves that went on, some even continuing today.

The tendency of this group to frequently move has created differences within the Romani people as well. Groups within the whole have picked up many of their own distinct characteristics such as differences in dialects or use of language. Rooting from ancient Punjabi, the language of today has dispersed into three main subgroups; The Domari, the Lomarven, and the Romani, also more simply stated as the Dom, the Lom, and the Rom. These three subgroups still contain common dialects and words despite their differences, proving the fact of common ancestry.

Besides slight differences within the many tribes of the Romani culture there are numerous characteristics as to each and every Romani are associated with. Some of these are “loyalty to family (extended and clan); belief in Del (God) and being

(the Devil); belief in predestiny; Romaniya, standards and norms, varying in degree from tribe to tribe; and the adaptability to changing conditions” (Courbet, November 1996). Along the same lines are some of their similar beliefs in religion, customs, and traditions, which are set by a central Roma organization known as the Romaniya. This group sets the standards as to what each individual must practice and adhere to.

The Romani people have the freedom to decide which religion they feel their family should belong to. It is not rare to see a family belonging to one religion while holding on to certain aspects of their heritages’ religion. They still tend to take part in certain rituals such as taking pilgrimages to France and Canada once a year to pay homage to their god. Along with religion Romani people have faith in curses, healing rituals, and good luck charms. This belief in the supernatural reflects their tactics to cure and prevent disease. Some approaches stated on the Patrin Web Journal are

One method of lowering a fever has been to shake a young tree. In this way the fever in transferred from the sick person’s body to the tree. Another method to bring down fever has been to drink powdered portions of certain animals, dissolved in spirits, to the accompaniment of a chant (Courbet, November 1996).

These practices including a few others are what make this imaginative group so unique.

The men of the Romani culture are seen to be the ones who are pure and clean. The reason for a woman’s “impurity” is due to the sole fact the she menstruates. The term coined by the Romani is marime, which can be thought of as the equivalent of dirty or polluted, has been designated to represents the woman’s impure act of menstruation. When a woman is in a house she is not allowed to pass among men or in between them

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