15 November 2010

40th day funeral

Yesterday I went with NMG to the funeral for her neighbor. If you remember what I wrote the other day, her neighbor didn't die a few days ago: he died 40 days ago... and they are still mourning/celebrating his life (we should take up this tradition!!).

When we were walking over to the house NMG instructed me on what I was supposed to say to the family. I still have no idea what I said, nor if I said it correctly (because everyone smiled when I said it), but I do know it had something to do with God and a word that sounded like ieftin (which means cheap... as in not expensive) but it really wasn't that.

We waited around for a few minutes as family members were bringing food into another room. They let me sneak in to snap a few pictures:

Then everyone else came in following the Priest. He is a wonderful man, and said, "Hello, Cate" (in English) when he saw me. (Side note: he has 4 children, all of which study English with Maria, and they are absolutely adorable. End side note). Everyone then filtered in the small room around the table. He lit two candles that were in the traditional bread, and then asked how my understanding is of Romanian. My host mom said pretty good- and then he started to speak in Russian, asking if that is easier for me. Um, not so much. He quickly switched back over and then she said if he speaks slow and clear I'll understand. I was expecting a speech/sermon of sorts. Instead, he sang a beautiful song in harmony with a woman (possibly a family member? Possibly his wife? I'm not positive).

As he was singing he was moving this ball of incense on a chain back and forth every once in while. Sometimes it would go out, then he'd stick his fingers in the ashes and it would begin to smoke and spread the scent again (it was like magic). He then read the names of the family members that were written in a notebook (Moldovans have such beautiful penmanship!):

After about 10 minutes of this he stuck a dried bunch of some sort of a plant in a bowl of water and would say something, then spray all corners of the room with it, as if he was splatter painting. When he finished this he left the room along with some of the guests- then came back with a bag of cookies, candies, and an orange for me.

Then we all sat down to eat and enjoy the feast. All of the food that was on the table when I took the first picture was just the beginning- the family then brought out that same amount in other things like sarmale, meatballs with sauce, and cake.

What I found the most interesting about this was the family didn't sit down to eat with the guests- except for the wife of the man who had died. They were constantly working... the women were in the kitchen and brining out food, and the men were filling up the shot glasses with vodka- while never sitting down.

All of a sudden it was over. Everyone was getting up and leaving, taking the traditional bread, a candle, and some candy with them. As we walked outside, another round of guests had arrived and were going to eat the food. I don't think the Priest was going to perform another ritual, but everyone was going to eat.

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