Mangavipen

mangavipen m.: engagement, ceremony that binds the couple.

After the mangavipen the two young people (terne) begin to live together as man and wife (bijav). The union confirmed by the family ceremony mangavipen binds the couple for life.

In the past, it was basically the parents who chose partners for their children. The union joined not only the "young people" but also all of their relatives. Attention was paid to social and economic advantages which the union of the two young people would bring to the newly established relationships. In many cases parents took the choices of the young people into consideration, as long as they did not conflict with the cultural norms of the community.

In contrast to the wedding – bijav, which was a prestigious affair, the mangavipen took place within the family circle. The boy's parents and the "young man" (terno) came to the home of the girl's parents "te mangavel la čha" ("to ask for the girl"); they brought alcohol, and the lifelong union was confirmed with a family celebration. Then – usually on the second day – the boy's family took the girl home with them, or, more precisely, ke sasvi ("to the mother-in-law") and, from then on, the young couple lived together.

Since, in Slovak and Hungarian Roma societies, the "greatest sin" (jekhbareder binos) was a union of close relatives – e.g. first or second cousins – finding a bride often demanded going outside the community. Groups of boys would go "te mangavel/te dikhel čhajen" ("go courting/go looking for girls") all over the vicinity – "andro štarto, pandžto gav" ("as far as the fourth or fifth village"). The greater the distance from home, the greater the guarantee that the girl would not be related. Then the boys would "tip off" their parents, who would decide about the intended bride.

Parents received information about appropriate partners for their children at all sorts of traditional inter-community gatherings of Roma: fairs, weddings (bijav), pro foros – special places in town (locus communus) where Roma from surrounding villages came together. For the choice of an appropriate partner, it was important to go outside one's community. During the war, when measures were applied which limited freedom of movement of "Gypsies", Roma were not only economically, but also socio-culturally handicapped. Therefore, out of necessity, more than one boy came with their parents te mangavel (to court) cousins – and the Roma community had to turn a blind eye to this jekhbareder binos (greatest sin). And so the society of the majority forced Roma to disregard their ethical-social norms – and it was that society which condemned them for this behaviour.

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