Rominche - Religion and Expressive Culture



Rominche culture is in many ways influenced by their opposition to Gorgios. Pollution beliefs are a strong example of this: food is "dirty" or "polluted" if even the shadow of a Gorgio falls upon it. The Rominche believe in and fear mulo, or ghosts, and much funerary practice is dedicated to confound the mulo of the deceased and speed him away from the living. Death should ideally occur away from the encampment—Rominche are most willing to send the terminally ill to hospitals to ensure that this is the case. There is also a very strong aversion to handling the corpse, which is a job they consider more suited to a Gorgio. Any Rominche in the vicinity of a death may attend the funeral, but there is a prohibition on all discord, so either rivalries must be set aside or the parties to such rivalries must stay away from a funeral. The day before the ceremony, the body is brought in an open coffin to a trailer in the camp. Traditionally its clothes are put on inside out, in an attempt to confuse the mulo. Two fires are lit to frighten off other mulo—one for men, one for women—around which groups of people keep vigil. Only postmenopausal women may sit up with the corpse in the trailer itself. Periodically someone will enter the trailer to look at the body and touch its face "so that it can be forgotten." When the corpse is brought out of the house, the attendees, all dressed in black, form a circle around the door, to witness the start of its final journey. The widow (er) and close cognates are expected to display dramatic expressions of grief, but affines are expected to maintain decorum and remain in the background. When the Rominche still traveled in wagons, the tradition was to burn it upon the death of its owner and to give the eldest son the iron frame left behind by the fire. Today it is the practice to purchase a cheap trailer into which the body is brought, and that trailer, rather than the one that had served as the deceased's residence, is what is burned. The procession to the grave site is solemn, conceived of by the mourners as the deceased's "last time to travel." Favorite possessions are traditionally buried with the corpse, so that the ghost won't be tempted to return for them.

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