Slovensko Roma - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs and Practices. The Roma consider themselves to be Christians and turn to divinities of the Catholic church. Each local group is tied to a particular saint (called devloro, "little God") and to his sanctuary. The saints have a non-Gypsy nature, as indeed do the ministers of the cult, who are all non-Gypsies: the Catholic priest and the faith healer. The former is considered above all the intermediary between the living and the dead; the latter (devloro or hailigo gadjo, i.e., "little God" or "non-Gypsy saint") is called upon in cases of illness.


Death and Afterlife. As mentioned above, the Roma follow a complex system of respect for the dead, a system that involves all social spheres. The various ways of showing respect are pursued by the family of the deceased and by anyone else who wishes to show respect. The respect involves a taboo on mentioning the deceased's name, the destruction of his or her possessions, the abandonment of the place where he or she died, and the decision to avoid doing something the deceased loved to do (for example, listening to a certain song, using a certain tool, eating a special dish). The respect also involves frequent visits to the cemetery (where the dead Roma are buried in the midst of the dead non-Gypsies, just as living Roma live in the midst of living non-Gypsies), no exhibition of photos of the deceased, and the substitution of red objects for black ones. As already noted, the group practicing respect acts as a group of defense/offense in cases of conflict.

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