Aug 13, 2015

Are you a Muslim?

When a girl or boy would die one would place a stalk of nacre (ruta graveolens) above their heads. According to the custom one places an herb of a distinct smell next to the deceased in order to chase the Jinn away. One would usually use nacre, whose bouquets often adorned the grave of a girl or a boy. Nacre is according to this an herb dedicated to the cult of the dead in Bosnian tradition.

As soon as a person would die one would make "dead man's paste" and would distribute it across the neighbourhood. Necessity to follow his departure into the other world with good deeds, in order to ease it, was pronounced before and during the funeral. That's why next to the head of the deceased one would place a bowl of flour, or wheat, with a few tallow candles stuck inside of it. On the next day the candles and the flour were given to the poor.

According to folk knowledge, the deceased should be buried as soon as possible. Depending on the case the funeral should be done the same day, and if death occurred at midnight or during the evening - then the next day. If the person died suddenly in his bed, and he wasn't lowered to the floor prior to that, to die there, then it is done once he has died. His head is tied with a bandana and his eyelids are squeezed, so he can have a nice face. The deceased is placed so that his body is straight, it used to be a habit to tie the thumbs on the legs in order for the body to keep that position, while a heavy object was placed on the stomach, such as a knife, or a piece of earth, out of fear that the dead body wouldn't bloat, since that was explained as him "prikazati" i.e. - becoming  a lampir. This is the reason why the house cat was locked away until the funeral has passed, out of fear that the cat will cross the deceased' body.

Deceased is covered with a white sheet and positioned so that his right cheek is turned in the direction of the holly city Mecca. One of the inhabitants, using a straight stick, takes a measure of the deceased, which is called "unčija" or "ulčija" in order to know the length of ćefin, the cloth of the dead, and digging of the grave. When the deceased is taken from the house, to the outside then care is taken that a part of him doesn't get stuck by a door or wall, since if that happens, it is believed, that his spirit will come back to the house and will disturb the inhabitants.

Bosnian folk believe that the soul can return home up to 40 days after the funeral. That's why lights or candles were turned on in the room where he lie, for the entire period, among the more affluent families, while the poor families would practice this ritual for seven or three nights. Place where the deceased was bathed was passed with fire, so that the Jinn and devils don't gather, and the room in which he lie was sprayed with water or was washed "so that the soul doesn't return". If the room was swept after the body was taken out, then the broom would be thrown far from the house.

After the body of the deceased is washed and all present men and women forgive him, halaliti, the body is taken to the grave where it is buried with a prayer. It is believed that when the Imam leaves the graveyard, since he has uttered all the necessary verses and prayers, the soul stays in the community of the dead. An interesting belief is that during the Imam's question of the deceased: "Are you a Muslim?" - the deceased in the grave lifts his entire body on the small finger of his right hand and answers readily: "I am a Muslim!" He does so that he is received by the dead. It is evident that the soul, according to belief, can resurrect the body so that it can lift itself up.