Piemontese Sinti - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practices. Most Piemontese are Roman Catholics. Piemontese Catholicism, however, stresses relatively minor cults (e.g., the cult of Saint Sarah) and pilgrimages, and gives less attention to the major beliefs and practices of Catholicism. For at least the last ten years, the Piemontese, like other European Gypsies, have been drawn to evangelical Pentecostalism. Pentecostalism is particularly appealing to Gypsies for a variety of reasons. First, it stresses miracle cures and divine revelation, practices that have always attracted Gypsies, as indicated by their regular participation in pilgrimages. Second, it easily integrates with Gypsy practices; for example, the Pentecostal ministry does not require celibacy, as does Catholicism, and hundreds of Gypsies have become ministers and preach in their native langauge. And, third, the movement involves events that regularly bring diverse elements of the European Gypsy Community together.

Arts. Singing and music composition are the major artistic activities, with music composed for performance on guitars.

Medicine. Some Sinti women have a great knowledge of medicinal plants, while others seem to have a gift for fortune-telling, as indicated by their regular non-Sinti clientele.

Death and Afterlife. The Piemontese believe in an afterlife, and they fear malevolent deeds ( mule ) perpetrated by the dead. Consequently, they try to respectfully ignore the deceased, try not to speak about them, and destroy their Material possessions. Xa tre mule! ("Eat your dead!") is the most spiteful insult one Sinti can say to another.

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