Rom of Czechoslovakia - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religion. Rom religion is best described as a set of beliefs rather than as a system of organized belief. Many features of Hinduism are still apparent. For example, the belief that whatever you do will sooner or later "come back to you" reflects karma law. Older Roms believe in rebirth, with the soul of a deceased Rom born in the body of a child. Most common is the belief that mule phiren (spirits of the dead) can influence the affairs of the living by taking revenge, fulfilling a wish, bringing a warning, etc. Roms use the services of local clergymen for life-cycle events such as bolipen (baptism) and burial, to witness an oath, and to exorcise a mulo.

Arts. Rom art forms are rich and varied and are manifested in čardašis (dance), gila (songs), paramisa (tales), and narrations, riddles, proverbs, etc. Songs are sung by women and especially by young girls. Čorikane gila are traditional, slow songs full of emotion, speaking about hunger, poverty, sorrow, loneliness, etc. Čardaša are amusing couplets that accompany dancing. Through these songs, feeling are expressed, messages conveyed, improper behavior criticized, and important events described. Each singer usually adds some improvised lines to the standard lyrics. Today, elements of popular music are transformed by Rom musicians into creative new forms for performance by Rom folk groups. Traditionally, paramisa were told by men at gatherings that lasted for hours. Today, with families more widely dispersed and televisions in every home, paramisa gatherings are no longer regular events and take place mainly at wakes. Rom literature and Rom graphic and plastic arts are recent phenomena, with Ruda Dzurko's glass pictures being the bestknown example.

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