nation without country.
Romani language is of Indo-Aryan origin and has many spoken dialects, but
the root language is ancient Punjabi, or Hindi. The spoken
Romani language is varied, but all dialects contain some common words in
use by all Roma. Based on language, Roma are divided into three
populations. They are the Domari of the
(the Dom), the Lomarvren of Central Europe (the
Lom), and the Romani of Western Europe (the Rom). There is
no universal written Romani language in use by all Roma.
Roma cannot be said to have a "religion" of their own. They have
usually adopted the faiths of the countries in which they live. Among the
Roma can be found Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and
Muslims. Many prefer to carry out religious rituals in their own homes or
in the context of folk.
religious affiliation is often supplemented by Roma traditional beliefs:
the existence of
the existence of beng (Satan)
existence of bibaxt (bad luck) and of mulу (supernatural
spirits or ghosts)|
the power of good luck charms, amulets
power of curses|
power of healing rituals|
is a state of impurity brought on a person by the violation of a purity
taboo. Some Roma consider the part of a woman's body below the waist to be
dirty or polluted, because it is associated with menstruation.
In many tribes, women wear long skirts, the bottoms of which must
not touch a man other than her husband.
pregnant woman is considered unclean. She must not give birth in the
family home because it would then become impure. After birth, anything
that the new mother touches is later destroyed. This quarantine continues
at least until the baptism of the baby.
are baptized, usually in running water, when they are a few weeks old.
Often, the infant is massaged with oil; this is believed to make it strong.
Roma typically has three names. The first is known only by the mother; it
is given at the time of birth. Its purpose is to confuse evil spirits by
keeping the real name of the child from them. The second name is conferred
at the time of baptism, and is the commonly used name within the tribe. A
third, different name may be given when the child is re-baptized in a
Christian church. It has little importance, except when dealing with
Pre-marital sex is strongly forbidden. Marriages to outsiders are heavily
discouraged. The wedding ceremony is usually simple. In some tribes, the
bride and groom join hands in front of the chief or an elder and promise
to be true to each other.
a person dies, relatives and friends gather around and ask for forgiveness
for any bad deeds that they have done to that person. They are concerned
that if such grievances are not settled, then the dead person might come
back as an evil spirit and cause trouble.
believe that a person can be reincarnated as another human or animal.
Alternately, they might appear as a mulу or "living dead",
seeking revenge on anyone who harmed him during his life on earth.
normally wash in running water, as in a shower. Baths are not used.
Women's and men's clothes are washed separately, because of the impurities
of a woman's body.
They also have female healers, called drabarni or drabenhgi, who prescribe
traditional healing rituals and cures.
do not believe in fortune telling. This practice is used only to earn
money from the Gadje( non-Roma).
Roma legal system not only protects the Roma from external and internal
threats, but also serves as a code that organizes Roma society. In
particular, Roma law has evolved to insulate Roma from the host society.
ensures that the host country's legal systems and cultures minimally
influence Roma life.
Roma law has
maintained its basic form, even though older methods of punishment have
given way largely to banishment or social ostracism, it must be more
nearly perfect than other laws.
community is ruled by a chief, a man who is chosen for his age, experience,
and wisdom. Some Roma tribes call this chief Rom baro, meaning
" The chief of a Roma community is a man who
inspires respect by his strength and intelligence, a man who by his own
life sets an example for the other Roma. Often, the chief may be able to
read and write to some extent. He settles minor disputes on the basis of
his mature judgment, and his decisions are followed by other members of
the country the Roma live in.
the country the Roma live in.
Food and drinks
A day will
generally begin with very strong black coffee, heavily sweetened with
sugar. Coffee is a staple of Roma existence for many tribes, and many cups
may be taken in the course of a day. There is usually no lunch, and dinner
is served at sunset, or, since the food is generally on the stove all
afternoon, whenever anyone is hungry. The basic element of this dinner is
a thick, fatty vegetable soup, or stew, with any available vegetables or
greens put into it. It is usually made even more hearty by the addition of
potatoes, rice, or pasta. Sometimes meat is served, generally broiled or
cooked on a spit. Game, such as rabbit and game fowl, are enjoyed when
possible. Garlic is a very commonly used seasoning. Some tribes sometimes
serve maize cakes instead of bread. Water is the most often served during
the course of a meal.
European Roma dish has traditionally been roasted hedgehog.
and other spirits are substituted for water at the meal.
best known Romani religious festivals are the annual pilgrimages to
Saintes Maries de la Mer on the Mediterranean coast of
Sainte Anne de Beaupre
. In Saintes Maries de la Mer, Sara the Black is paid
homage to by the Roma on the 24-26 of May. In
, the Roma pay homage to Saint Anne on July 26. These
annual religious festivals are also used as social gatherings for the
Roma are a distinct ethnic minority whose origins began on the Indian
subcontinent over one thousand years ago. No one knows for certain why the
original Roma began their great wandering from
and beyond, but they have dispersed worldwide,
persecution and oppression through the centuries.
have been several migrations from
was the initial dispersal from
about a thousand years ago.
second great migration, known as the Aresajipe, was from southwest
in the 14th century.
migration was from
in the 19th and early 20th centuries after the
abolition of Romani slavery in
were the first people of colour to immigrate in large numbers to
, and Europeans tended to treat them as outsiders.
hunting and other such persecutions have occurred almost from the
beginning of the Roma presence in
. It is believed that as much as half of the Roma in
were enslaved, from the 14th century until Romani
slavery was abolished in the mid-19th century.
1,500,000 Roma were murdered in the Holocaust.
Europe During the Communist era, Roma culture was suppressed by the
government. Their newspapers and clubs were closed; their language was
discrimination against Roma in employment, education, health care,
administrative and other services is observed in most societies, and hate
speech against them deepens the negative anti-Roma stereotypes which are
typical of European public opinion.
customs and traditions are as diverse as the number of Roma nations and
the countries they inhabit. Generally, there remains a fine cultural
thread which holds the Roma people together, no matter where they may be.
core of Romani culture is based on a deep-rooted feeling of love for life
and freedom, in which the collective aspect plays an important role. In
this context, the Roma have always expressed a deep respect towards their
elders, who are seen as the true bearers of the Romani identity. The
spirit of non-violent behaviour also figures prominently in Romani culture.
Roma have been known as entertainers in every country they have travelled.
In eastern Europe, the Roma have been known as skilled acrobats, bear
trainers, horse trainers, musicians, dancers and singers. They have owned
and operated travelling carnivals and circuses. They have been prized by
royalty as court musicians for their mastery of musical styles.
contributed their own unique styles to middle eastern music, Jewish
klezmer music, flamenco music and dance, jazz, and they have influenced
other artists in their music and art, among them Liszt, Bizet, Brahms,
Dvorák, Verdi, Rachmaninov, and Bartok.
well-known modern entertainers have claimed Romani ancestry, including the
actor and Roma activist, Yul Brynner; the comedian, Charlie Chaplin; the
actress, Rita Hayworth; the actor, Michael Caine; and the actor and
director Bob Hoskins. The Gipsy Kings are perhaps the best known Roma
musical entertainers in the world today.
The Romanes language has not
had many important authors, primarily because of the absence of a
universal standard in written Romanes. Among Roma authors are the novelist
Mateo Maximoff, a Kalderash Rom, writing in French, translated by others
into English and other languages. Papusza, the Romani poetess from
, is being "rediscovered" by new readers.
Today, important Roma authors are emerging from
with critical acclaim, writing in Romanes.
of foreign population /minorities
are more than twelve million Roma located in many countries around the
world. There is no way to obtain an exact number since they are not
recorded on most official census counts.
fear that over time integration could lead to assimilation, and the
eventual disappearance of Romaniya.
they need and depend on contacts with their host countries as a source of
their livelihood, the Roma do not want to be part of these societies in
any sense that would involve compromise of their basic beliefs.
people remain the least integrated and the most persecuted people of
Europe.The main Roma problems are
Romani flag was declared the national emblem of the Romani people during
the first World Romani Congress near
in 1971. The flag had
already surfaced during an earlier conference in 1933, but it was not until 38
years later that the symbol was declared official.
map of possible migration routes from