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  Charivari (from French charivariser, ‘to deride’) is a worldwide phenomenon, known also as chiassio (‘uproar’), katzenmusik (‘caterwauling’), ‘rough music’ and ‘shivaree’. It consists of making a discordant racket with anything that comes to hand, such as kitchen utensils, sticks and stones, as well as the voice or the whistle. Originally intended to show possibly hostile supernatural powers that the people so derided were not worth attention, it was a popular accompaniment to wedding processions, harvest festivals and the like. It was and is also used to heap ridicule on people disapproved of by the community. For example, adulterers in the Appalachians in the USA and in Kenya were so treated.

Charivari was one of the accompaniments to the Dionysian processions from which Greek comedy (and hence all later Western comedy) originated. It is still standard in some Far Eastern religious practices, such as the celebrations of the Chinese New Year or Indonesian devil-exorcism, and is an integral part of voodoo ritual. In the West, a vestigial echo can be seen in the ribald hullabaloo which often accompanies a young man\'s ‘stag night’. KMcL



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