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former yugoslavia
The Story Of Family Life Of Gypsies In The Republic Of Montenegro
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The origin of gypsies was insufficiently known way until the second half of the 18th century. The data on these people spread all over the world were scarce, but on basis of rather numerous and systematic studies of characteristics and independence of gypsies, it was scientifically proved that these people originate from India, which is their native land.The names for the Gypsies in the former Yugoslavia is different, most frequently related to their skills, thus their names Madjupi, Kovači (blacksmiths) and Gabelji (nomads); it is not rare that they are called Gurbeti.

The name Madjup was derived from the name Jedjup, meaning the same as Gypsy, what is the name for these people in Great Britain. Name Gurbet originated under the influence of Turkish word Gurbet, meaning wanderer, and the name Gabelj was derived from the word "gaveljati", what means to move slowly, and in this respect Gabelji means "Slowly moving people." It is tough that the Gypsies in Montenegro (Republic of Montenegro is situated on the Balkan Peninsula and is one republics of Former Yugoslavia); Bijelo Polje originate from Sarajevo.

Two brothers, Selim and Haco (Haćo), run away from Sarajevo after 1908 escaping from blood feud. Selim settled in Bijelo Polje Bistrica, Haco (Haćo) in Zeta. From Selim presently there are the Selimovics (Selimovići) in Bijelo Polje and Berane; they are the best distributed group of Gypsies, the Hadzovics (Hadžovići) are from Haco (Haćo) ; they live in the surrounding of Podgorica and Niksic (Nikšić).As for the religion and customs of Gypsies, here. Like in the other regions, they are committed to the official religion and they imitate the customs of the majority population. The Kovacs (Kovači) blacksmiths, Gypsies, although their language was Slavenized, belong, without exception, to Mouhamedan religion .

The most interesting customs of Gypsies are the ones concerning marriage. The ransom of a bride is almost obligatory; the amount to be paid covers the costs of wedding celebration, clothing and dowry for the bride. If the groom's parent are not able to pay the amount of money agreed by contract, the period for ransom is prolonged. Future bride receives gifts, mainly various jewelry, silk scarves and other objects.

The engagement is completed only when "Misidžije" (two groom's friends) come to the girl's parent house where they obtain "Wedding scarf." This way completed engagement is followed by a meeting of the representatives of both families, where they select the amount of money to be given to girl's parents. A few days before the wedding, some person from groom's home bring clothing to the bride. Clothing usually consists of the following: Turkish trousers, coat with long narrow sleeves, waistband, shirt and shoes, and on the wedding day, the bride has her hair coloured by henna, nails polished. Then, as she allegedly weeps, the other girls laugh and sing. The bride is then covered by a red clothe, scattered all over by coins, candies and wheat and handed over to groom's wedding guests.

It is interesting that the wedding guests are not going back the same way they used when coming for a bride. When the wedding guests come to groom's home the ceremony starts. Bride is given a plate with honey; she is supposed to dip her right hand fingers in it and to touch only the upper treshold of the door. As the celebration goes on broom approaches the bride and eats with her a piece of bread dipped in honey, and they make a preparation for a love scene. Former custom was that bride sleeps the first night with her sister-in-law or with father-in-law . However, it was noticed, as they say, that father-in-law happens to be undisciplined, what resulted in disappearing of this custom. Gypsy women give births since they are capable for doing so, and it is not rare that some marriages had even more than 20 children. But, on the other hand, children's mortality rate, caused by the conditions they live in, is very high.Gypsy mothers breast feed their children for a long time.

After that period they give them the food for the adults, and very frequently one can sees that mother or grandmother chew crust of bread or cooked grains of corn than give it to a child. If the child does not start to speak for a long time, according to some beliefs, Gypsy should steel a piece of bread from the beggar, and give it to the child to eat. Since the beggars usually talk well, it is expected that the child will start talking, too.When the baby is born, some elderly woman, a midwife, lifts her/him up and says "Live long, live 100 years" and when the child is sick for a long time his name is changed, to have the disease deceived, thinking that it is another person.Gypsies nomads do the first baptizing of their newly born baby so that they dip it into the cold water, if possible in a creek or a river. According to their opinion this is the rule that should be obeyed to have the child stronger and better resistant to diseases. It is known that formally children were given three names: the first, secret one, the second, which corresponds to Gypsy relatives, and the third for adjusting between the population of other nation, between which they live.

The Gypsies in Montenegro celebrate St. George's Day with great festivity. They also call it Erdeleze, what means a new summer, therefore, they celebrate six May, Erdeleze, Turkish holiday, which is mentioned in their songs. It coincides with the day of Martyr George.The Gypsies mostly occupy the settlements in the surrounding of the city. In Rakonje, nearby Krusevo, there are 15 families, in Strojtanica seven, in Boljanina four and in Nedakusi, near the railway station there are four families. Presently around 5,000 Gypsies live in Montenegro.

The families usually consist of eight members, although some families have 11 or even 13 children. Ninety percent of Gypsies are illiterate, what is a fact that worries. According to some studies only eight Gypsies completed elementary school in last 20 years.Historical, ethnic and cultural destiny of Gypsies are especially interesting. They should not be studied only as a folklore element, but as an irreplaceable ethnic and cultural factor of our environment.


Street Talk

Fascinating. If you have an English keyboard, it would be helpful to make corrections as several non-English characters interfere with reading. Thank you.

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  about 7 years ago
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