Rom - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Within living memory, most marriages have been arranged by the families of the boy and the girl, the initiative being with the boy's parents. Formerly the young people were rarely consulted in the matter; today their wishes may be taken into consideration, especially if they are strongly opposed to the proposed match. Elopement, which may have been an earlier form of marriage, is occasionally resorted to as an alternative form. Marriage is viewed as a contract between the two families with bride-price as the cement to solidify the agreement. At the wedding, formerly an elaborate three-day series of ceremonies now collapsed to one, the bride is transferred to the groom's family, and money is collected from the guests to defray the costs borne by them. Over the generations, patterns of bride exchange have developed between certain patrilineages amounting to a loose form of alliance. The members of such lineage pairs often say that the frequent intermarriages practically make them into one vitsa. Marriages between cousins once removed are common, but may also occur between first cousins, especially cross cousins. After marriage the couple traditionally resides patrilocally until other brothers in the family get married, at which time the first one may move out to begin an independent nuclear household. The relationship to the husband's paternal household remains strong, however; meals may still be taken there and often the households are in close proximity by choice. Divorce requires the return of a portion of the Brideprice, the amount depending on the length of time the couple stayed together.

Domestic Unit. The primary social unit among the Rom is the patrilineally extended family. Formerly this constituted a camping unit, but today it is difficult for such a large number of people to obtain single or adjacent housing. As much as possible, however, the extended family attempts to function as a domestic unit—for example, by visiting daily, sharing meals, and otherwise considering one another's homes as Extensions of one's own household.

Inheritance. Typically at the time of death there used to be very little to inherit and a great reluctance to possess items belonging to the deceased; most personal belongings would have been burned, broken, or discarded to avoid possible visits by the spirit of the deceased. Today, increasing ownership of real estate and bank accounts is bringing more mainstream inheritance rules to bear on disposal of property.

Socialization. Children are raised in an extended family setting with all older females sharing in child-caring activities. Children are indulged, protected, and treasured. They grow up feeling secure in, but dependent on, the protection they receive from the extended family. But they often seem at a loss in new situations without the support of the relatives. Even adults consider long separation from the family to be the worst kind of deprivation that could occur.

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