Fajta

fajta f. family, vertically related unit. Fajta pal o dad – family on the father's side. fajta pal e daj – family on the mother's side. To a considerable extent, the family (fajta) corresponds to the social grouping of the Indian jati.

When two Roma met for the first time, they introduced themselves first by identifying their place of origin and their father's family: as the son of so and so. Both together, to a great extent, were connected, because, after generations of settled Servika-Roma families were concentrated in certain localities. If the mother's family was more important or more famous, the Rom would say he was the son of… (and give his mother's name), who was the daughter of so and so. The Rom's name would come at the end because man existed and functioned, not as a separate individual, but as a member and representative of his fajta and his fameľija.

That kind of identification had its practical reason: new acquaintances found out how to act: if their families were on the same "caste level", one could accept food from the other. If not, not.

Each member of a sub-ethnic society was aware of which families belonged to his sub-ethnic group and what kind of reputation each one had. Various attributes were jointly generated: the dominating traditional trade (e.g. lavutariko fajta – musical clan) or the physical strength of the clan because of an overwhelming number of male descendants. (Every old Rom still remembers that the Sidor family were famous for their physical strength for almost all of the twentieth century. After 1989, the majority emigrated.) A prime attribute was the ritual cleanliness of the clan – if they belonged to the žuže Roma or the degeša. Finally, importance was given to the cultural behaviour of the clan: maribnaskeri fajta (a brawling clan), fajna manuša (correct, fine people), a clan of drunkards, etc.

Clans were known by the surname of the oldest ancestor, who lived in the collective memory reinforced by non-formalised narration vakeribenpal o dada (stories about ancestors). Heroes of such stories were those who became famous through their strength, their music, their story-telling talent, their humour, etc.

It is difficult to determine how far back the consciousness of a certain clan is preserved in the collective memory of the sub-ethnic group. We have encountered in stories pal o dada which go back to the time of Maria Theresa. The consciousness of one's own clan, to say nothing of that of other clans, is disturbed by mass migrations, as, for example, the postwar migration from Slovakia to the Czech lands.

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Image Dragan Jevremović on "fajta"
Image So si o prekari? – What is a "prekari"?