"Clean", "cleanly " – relates to hygiene as well as ethics. Keeping a house clean is a woman's most important job.
Žužo chaben ("clean food")
This expression refers to ritual. Horsemeat, dogs, cats, badgers, pouched marmots, or meat from dead animals are not
considered clean food. Clean-unclean food created the main barrier between
"clean Roma" and degeši. [Mahrime] This
barrier is ancient. From time immemorial, and still, today, Indian
jati are separate from one another. In India, both
pork and horsemeat are considered unclean. Those castes whose members do not eat
horsemeat or pork consider themselves "higher". People from such
castes will never taste food in a home where, for example, people eat horsemeat or
If the differences in eating habits between castes are not too great, someone of a
"better" caste will eat kaccha khana (raw food) which the hand of
the homemaker has never touched while cooking: a banana, an apple (he will peel off
the skin), milk, etc. He will not eat pakka khana (cooked food). If this
"lower" caste guest visits a "higher" caste
home (where "clean" food is eaten), the "clean"
host will throw away the plate from which the degeš has eaten.
That is the way it was (and sometimes still is), even among Roma. A
"clean Rom" will never accept food in the home of a
degeš. If he does not know what kind of family he is visiting ,
he will eat "dry food" - bought in a shop. Should a "clean Rom" serve food to a degeš, he would throw away the plate afterwards. He would never again eat off such a plate. Probably anyone
who has ever been in a Roma home has been invited to come to the table
with the words, "Eat, eat. Don't worry. We're clean Roma."
Žuže Roma ("clean Roma")
Roma who do not eat horsemeat, dogs,
cats or any unclean food (žužo chaben). In addition, they know
the meaning of honour and modesty, and they keep their customs and culture – their
By this we do not mean to imply that Roma who eat horsemeat are not honest. There is
a saying: "Do not insult anyone, since you do not know a man's heart."
It is possible that some Roma who eat horsemeat are more honest than "clean
Roma". And furthermore, today's world is proceeding along new roads, and thus
we look at such things with other eyes.
Žuži romňi ("clean woman", "cleanly woman")
1. A cleanly woman maintains cleanliness while cooking. Before she begins to cook,
she washes her hands and covers her head with a kerchief to keep any hair from
falling into the food. She examines all the pots, the bowls, the mugs and the cutlery
to see if they are clean and, even if they are, she rinses them. The utensils she
uses for cooking are never put to other use, for example for laundry or for washing
dishes. While cooking, a woman may not blow her nose. If a woman does not maintain
these rituals, others will treat her as a degeška and will
never eat in her home. In earlier times, women were not allowed to cook when they were
menstruating. Ancient Roma kept such strict customs that, for example, if a
daughter-in-law was sullen, bad-tempered or whining, her mother-in-law would throw
her out of the kitchen so that her anger or sadness would not spoil the food. A
cleanly woman never warms up leftovers. She throws them away so that everyone can see
them. They say that "spirits of the dead" can sniff out
leftovers. A cleanly woman keeps her home clean; she sweeps it in the morning and
several times again during the day.
2. "Clean/unsullied woman" means that she is honest. They say
that "she is unsullied by another man".