Gypsy tribe celebrates death

 Contrary to the usual norm of life, one gypsy tribe from Rajasthan actually rejoices and revels in deaths in their family counting them as one of the happiest events in their lives while treating births as occasions of great grief.

The Satiyaa community comprising about 24 odd gypsy families scattered across the state live in temporary shelters along roadsides and in empty spaces rely solely on disposing of the bodies of cattle from the roads.

Mostly illiterate, these tribes are notorious for their addiction to liquor. With their deep brown complexion and athletic physique, women of the tribe have been known to indulge in prostitution.

But what distinguishes the Satiyaa community from the other tribes is after a death in the community, the funeral and cremation of the deceased becomes an event of celebration.

“We wear fresh garments, buy sweets, dry fruits and local liquor on the occasion,” says Jhankya Satiyaa, a Satiyaa. The body is taken to crematorium in a procession of dancing and twisting groups of near and dears on the tune of drums.

After the funeral pyre is lit, members from the tribe arrange a feast, consume locally-brewed liquor and dance with vigour until the body is completely reduced to ashes.

“Death is a great occasion for us as it liberates the soul from the physical prison,” says another member from the community who points out “birth and living life is a great punishment by God to sinful souls”.

Arun Kumar Saxena, a senior journalist who has researched the tribe says Satiyaas consider life to be a curse from God.

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