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Social Customs & Etiquettes in Suriname

A typical, mainly urban Creole, expression is "no span" ("Keep cool; don't worry"), symbolising the generally relaxed atmosphere. The population has a reputation for being hospitable, and most houses do not have a knocker or a bell. Shoes often are taken off when one goes inside. Guests usually are expected to partake in a meal. A casual conversation is initiated by a handshake, and good friends are greeted with a brasa (hug). Children are expected to respect adults, use the formal form of address when speaking to them, and be silent when adults speak.

The Maroons and Amerindians have rites of passage. Among the Wayana, boys undergo an initiation rite, eputop, in which wasps are woven into a rush mat in the form of an animal that symbolises power and courage. The mats are tied to the boys, who must withstand the stinging without a whimper. Among the Caribs, the girls undergo a similar ritual, except that stinging ants rather than wasps are used. The circumcision of Muslim boys is considered a rite of passage.

Although many marriage partners are of the same ethnic group, mixed marriages do take place in Paramaribo. In traditional Hindustani families in the agricultural districts, parents still select partners for their children. Weddings can be very lavish. Living together without being married is common but is not acceptable to traditional Hindustani, among whom the bride is expected to be a virgin.

In the Caribbean family system, female-headed households and the fact that women have children from different partners are accepted. Some women practice serial monogamy; it is more common for men to have several partners simultaneously. Having a mistress (buitenvrouw) is accepted and usually is not shrouded in secrecy. Maroon men often have different wives in different villages; those men do, however, have the responsibility to supply each wife with a hut, a boat, and a cleared plot for subsistence agriculture.

Babies usually sleep in cribs near the mother and are moved to a separate room when they are older. In the interior, mothers carry their babies during the day; at night, babies sleep in a hammock. In contrast to Maroon women, Amerindian women are reluctant to let anybody touch their babies.

Be respectful when taking photographs. Like everywhere else, one should respect the environment and the culture. For example the inland-people consider certain trees and spots holy and it is likely you need consent before taking a photograph.





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