Aug 13, 2015

White colour - symbol of sorrow

While mourning a dead family member, women avoided wearing red coloured clothes, white clothes was worn exclusively. Black was never worn since it was considered a sin. Women would, equally, take off all the jewellery and wouldn't wear it for the next 40 days, and some didn't wear jewellery for a year or two. During the time of mourning none of the family members can organize a wedding or goes to one if invited; there is no singing and no joy. During Eid a ram is sacrificed for the soul of the deceased. If the deceased appointed by his will for a ram to be slaughtered, then all the meat needs to be given to the poor, while in other instances only the blood goes for his soul, and the meat can be eaten by the members of the household. There was a custom in Sarajevo that the left side of the sacrifice is distributed to the poor and the right is left to the family. In Jajce on the eve of Eid, halvah and bread were distributed for the "soul of the dead". In Bihać on the eve of both Eid's people would bring halvah and pies in front of the mosque, they would be then distributed to the children "for the soul of the deceased". For the forgiveness of the sins of the deceased it was customary to distribute "čagate" (kefaret) i.e. money wrapped in paper with which a person can provide a meal for themselves.Čagete was distributed during the first seven days after the funeral, seven čageta for seven poorest households in the neighbourhood or for forty days.
Karl Steiner, doctor from Ljubinja, in his work Bosnian folk medicine, notes that Bosniaks do not consider as something horrible, instead every Friday, and often other days, they gladly gather in graveyards for conversation and rest, which the author considers as proof of great respect towards their ancestors. The interesting thing is that the author highlights that there is no sorrowful mood with the gathered people, instead everyone is feeling relaxed and especially with the young. Bosniaks even have a very special custom to make small dents on the gravestones in order to gather rain water for the birds but also leave food for them .
Connecting birds with the dead i.e. graveyards is not a coincidence since the bird besides being a mythological personification in Bosnia of the soul, her symbolism is much greater and leads us to the Illyrian religious belief in which birds which pulled carriages of the sun god, are mentioned, the same god which is born each day in the "east" and dies in the "west". It is obvious that are ancestors considered birds as souls, holly animals, which has a foothold in Bogomil teachings that it is a deadly sin to kill animals and especially birds and to destroy their eggs.
Respect towards the dead is an integral part of Bosnian spiritual tradition since the old days. Passing by graveyards old people still today preserved a habit to utter El-Fatiha for the dead; first for god's messenger Muhammad, then for the deceased and in the end for all of the dead.