Women Keepers of Ritual and the Caloian by Lori Tiron-Pandit

LTPPortrait10_15As a child, I learned all about my religion from my grandmother, in her small and remote Romanian village. She told me many Bible stories from our Christian Orthodox tradition, often disguised as bedtime fairytales, but it was not doctrine that I learned from her, as much as ritual. She taught me the prayers to say at night so I don’t have nightmares, the candles to light in church for luck, the list of dead and living to give the priest for blessings, the making and delivering of food as offerings in memory of the recently deceased.

So many of the spiritual rituals I learned from my grandmother involved food. She taught me when and how to fast, as well as how to prepare the ritual Christmas and Easter feasts: kneading and baking the traditional sweet bread filled with cocoa and walnuts or sweet cheese, cooking the celebratory pork or lamb-based dishes.

In my family, my grandmother was the keeper of rituals, many of them Christian, and many carried from a “primitive”, pagan, pre-Christian time. After growing up, as I distanced myself from my rigid Christian roots, I began to look with more appreciation back at these older traditions, some almost extinct, that had been passed down to me. Continue reading “Women Keepers of Ritual and the Caloian by Lori Tiron-Pandit”

This Be My Altar by Lori Tiron-Pandit

LTP Feb2015My grandmother took me to church often when I was a child. It was not my favorite activity. The village church, surrounded by the graveyard, was cold and gloomy, and the priest demanded too much undue reverence, I thought. As a consequence, I used to spend whole days devising plans of sudden sickness and disappearance acts before church time.

One summer, I must have been around seven or eight, my grandmother told me that we would be going to a monastery in a neighboring village, and there was nothing I could do or say to get out of it. I felt betrayed by fate and bereft of hope.

When we reached the Vladimiresti Monastery, I found myself in front of a tall fence of thick, whitewashed walls, over which trailed heavy clematis and morning glory vines. It was a beautiful day, with a perfectly clear sky and balmy weather, and that first image of the monastery was so perfect that it seemed almost fake, like a movie set. Continue reading “This Be My Altar by Lori Tiron-Pandit”

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