1:35 PMThe Romani Way
The Romani (gypsy) way of life is much misunderstood. It's firmly based upon three fundamental principles and a whole battery of laws, customs and traditions that follow on from them. We have our own "courts," "judgements" and our own fiercely held beliefs. |
The core principles of our code, often referred to as the leis-prala (the law of the brothers) are freedom, health and love. We have a saying that without freedom there can be no health and without health, love cannot be fully enjoyed.
Our over-riding passion is for freedom. Even though nowadays most of amaro folki (our people) live in static homes rather than caravans or the old hand-painted vardos, we still feel the fire of freedom burning deep within us. Very few Roma work for other people, and if they do it's almost always a temporary job. We much prefer to work for ourselves and run our own businesses. The internet is full of Romanis offering their services and, of course, using it to make contact with other gypsies.
It's just our way; we prefer the freedom of working for ourselves to what we see as the slavery of paid employment for a gaffer.
Very few Roma are on welfare. My Uncle Jaime once described social security as "valium for the hopeless." He could turn his hand to almost anything though mainly he worked with wood.
Many craftspeople, sales reps, labourers, painters and decorators, car mechanics and so on are Romani. We're also door to door sellers and these days sell a lot of our stuff on the internet.
And, of course, particularly the rawnis (ladies) of our tribe will sell you bunches of sweet-smelling lavender or tell "tiri cap" (your fortune).
The expression "cross my palm with silver" is often misunderstood. To do it properly you DON'T cover the palm widthwise but lengthways, from the tip of the middle finger down to the wrist.
"Dukkering o vast" (reading the palm) is one of our great skills though to be honest I'm useless at it. (Jaime was brilliant).
On the other hand I'm pretty ace with the cards!
Lell miri cap! (Make my fortune!)
Anyway, to us freedom is NOT "just another word for nothing left to lose" (much as I love the song!); it's the whole ground of our being.
If you take that away from us we die inside.
Perhaps more so than MOST people.
We don't want big chiefs telling us what to do; our vitsas (tribes) will have meetings and then there are courts and things to decide on more major issues.
O patrin pens amaro drom (the sign-post points us our way).
WE are NOT lawless; we follow the leis-prala, the law of the brothers.
We are NOT dirty; the words mokardi and marime which mean "unclean" are two of our fiercest condemnations.
And we HATE the word "pikey" with a special fervour, more so even than we hate being called "gyppos."
A pikey is an Anglo-Rom term meaning a gypsy who has been EXPELLED from the tribe.
It's a particularly resented insult by our people.
I'll post more and I'm going to go into a lot of specific detail.
I'll try not to bore the pants of people too much!
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