How often have we heard and do we hear this statement, this: “I was born in a Gypsy caravan, there-and-there, etc”, when folks wish to make everyone believe that they are real tatcho Romani-Gypsies? Often, for emphasis, this is even a wooden vardo. Far too often, I personally think. The truth of the matter is that what they are saying is a complete contradiction in terms, an oxymoron, so to speak, because if they are, supposedly, tatcho Romani by bloodline and tradition then a birth taking place in the caravan is and was a complete and utter “No, No” and a Taboo not to be broken. It just is not and was not done, ever. It would make the caravan mokadi (mochardi/mogati) and therefore the vardo would have to be destroyed afterwards as would have to be everything in it, and I do stress everything that was in it during the birth. It would also show that the family or clan where things like that would happen is not tatcho unless, obviously, the vardo is burned afterwards. Anyone talking such is talking complete and utter bull dust, as the Australians would say, and is probably no Rom at all; at least not one whose family has any Romanipen. And rat does not count for everything, does it now. No birth or death would be permitted to take place within the vardo.
There is a poem by Gypsy Williams, the Romani missionary in England some rather longish time ago, which goes…
“Into the tent where the Gypsy boy lay
Dying alone at the close of the day…”
…and shows how is really was and should be.
Both coming into the world and leaving this world were done, so to speak, in a small bender, often referred to as a “blister”, and never in the wagon itself nor the living space bender. So anyone saying that he or she was born in a Gypsy wagon either is very economical with the truth or he or she comes from a family that had no Romanipen whatsoever and may not even be of the tacho Rat.
As to the birthing tent I wish to quote from the book “The Haresfoot Legacy” by Frances Brown and that not because I cannot write this down myself but because the lady authors knows what she is talking about. On page 80 in the paperback edition from 1990 published by Headline in the middle of the page it reads, and I quote: “She crawled into the special childbirth tent that Jem had built – a tent that could be destroyed without much loss four weeks later when the mochardi time was past.” It is rather rare to read such accounts in books but anyone who comes from tatcho stock who have lived the life and observed the rules should know. However, what is written there in that book is tatcho in that a special tent would have been erected for the purpose of a birth and the period of seclusion of the woman and the child, as well as if a person was seriously ill and especially if a person was known to be dying. Another tent was there as well and that was the death tent, the place where, originally, the cremation would take place. It would be made from white canvass and would be burned with the deceased inside. Burials were done, I admit, and it very much depended on the family or clan. The use of the tents instead of the vardo was used, however, by all and still is (or should be).
© Veshengro, 2005