Our expert says:
Check the constitution --- it is NOT compulsory. But obviously cultures, comunities and individual families difer as to what they expect. The family has to recognize that your exams are very important, and more so that your paticipation ( presumably as a fairly peripheral person not yet formally a family member ) in their cleansing ceremony. The person who died was not your relative, but theirs. And besides, as you point out, the ceremony won't be ablout cleansing YOU, but they want to use you as an unpaid servant to care for the other guests -- that CANOT be considered more important than your exams, and your boyfriend ought to recognize this and onvince them of it.
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