One of the dance forms we learnt in our Bharatnatyam curriculum was the gypsy dance, the costume would vivid, with gold spangles, and colourful hair tassels’, a tambourine in the hand and quick beats. Most of us loved it for the sheer energy it created. Gypsies seemed exotic.
Gypsies the Nomads..
Travelling in caravans, in their own habitat, camping at night the sound so romantic, authors I read be it Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle they all have gypsies the mysterious, mystics who listen to the soul.
Something very romantic, mysterious about them their closed lifestyle and passionate living, their constant run in with the laws of the so called civilized society these community has fascinated many creative writers, the Banjaras of Hindi movies the Romani’s of Europe.
The term gypsy was applied to the Roma by outsiders, possibility assuming that they were Egyptian in origin. Gypsies or Romani are nomads of Europe they are believed to have ethnic origin in the northern region of Indian subcontinent like Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan. The exact origins are not really known but the history as retold by the clan family customs like singing and storytelling talk of a migration from India, the motives could be anything from famine, or military invasions from Alexander the great (356-323 BCE) or Mahmud Ghazni (971 – 1030 CE)
Though Kuntari or the Hindu based concept of universal balance is the fundamental of Romani spirituality, they tend to practise the dominant religion of the state.
Pope John Paul II exhorted his followers to treat the Romanies with compassion and respect and proposed the dedication of April 8th to understanding Romani culture as part of international civil culture awareness.
2003 saw the Dalai Lama light a candle to commemorate the day.
2004 Adam Ereli of the US state department brought up the human rights issues on the abuses faced by the Romani’s in Europe.
2006 Maud de Boer-Buquicchio of council of Europe brought up the issue of antiziganism, and discrimination.
2009 Hillary Clinton spoke about protecting their rights.
2016 the external affairs minister of India, Sushma Swaraj wanted the Romani’s to be recognised as part of Indian Diasporas. Gypsiology or Romani studies are an emerging interdisciplinary ethnic studies field concerned with the experiences of the Romani people. Terms like Zignology, Ciganology, Romology, Romalogy and Romistics are often used. The focus, of these studies however includes the origin of the Romani people, the sociology, anthropology, linguistics, politics, the experiences of persecution, and political oppression. This study has its origin in the United Kingdom, and was designated formal in 1990.
Yet when one says Gypsies this how it resonates –“I have always considered myself a person with a gypsy heart, and I Surrender my dreams to my soul, for it’s a free sprit who believes in no boundaries of region and religion.”
― Megha Khare, Write like no one is reading 2