Tuesday January 28, 2020
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Gazni invasion resulted in exodus from India who we call Roma: Professor Courthiade

Two Roma girls dance during a gathering. Photo: darkroom.baltimoresun.com

New Delhi: Romas left India a long back ago but when? Here, the confusion starts. Whether they left India in waves or was it a one-time movement? Many theories have been proposed to solve this puzzle.

A 62-year professor, Marcel Courthiade from the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Cultures, Universite Paris-Sorbonne, France gave one such theory.

“It was one big exodus, which took place in the 11th century when Mahmud Ghazni invaded Kannauj,” the professor opined, speaking at the recently concluded International Roma Conferecne in New Delhi.

India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj had also referred to Courthiade’ theory, but also had later mentioned the wave theory of exodus during subsequent time periods as well.

Speaking about the language of the Romas, the eminent professor said, “if Romas left India in phases then there should be differences in the language, they speak.” But, the case is not so.

The professor is an Albanian born scholar and actvist, who has based his hypothesis on a book written by Abu Naser al-Utbi, the chronicler of Mahmud Ghazni. The book titled ‘Kitab-i-Yamini’ chronicles the invasion of India by the Afghan invader, including the raid of Kannauj in 1026 AD, and mentions how an entire population of around 53,000 people that included rich, poor, artisans, craftsmen, etc. was taken to Afghanistan as prisoners.

The professor said that he was planning to hold a festival in Kannauj to mark 1,000 years of the deportation.”

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History of Roma people’s flag


There is a great misconception about the Romani people. Some even believe that Roma are the people from Romania, which is a completely false statement. The Romani or Roma, are the ethnic group of people who travel from place to place, whose majority currently resides in Europe and America.

Estimates vary, but there is a 12 million strong Roma community spread over the world. However, the precise count remains difficult to undertake for multiple reasons. As many of these people hesitate and refuse to register their identity in official censuses for the fear of discrimination. Some get married with the local population of the native country and thus no longer identify themselves as Romani.


Some historians believe that these people originated from Egypt and thus the tag of ‘gypsy’ was given to them. But under the more realistic definition, the Roma people originated specifically in Northern India and migrated to European countries whose reason and time is still uncertain.

Romani flag

Romani people may be a widely scattered community, however, they do have a flag that binds them together. Their flag got approved in 1971 in London by delegates at the First World Romani conference.

The flag has a bicolor background of blue and green which signifies heaven and earth respectively. And in front, there is a wheel with 16 spokes representing the travelling spirit of Romani people.

They also have an official Roma anthem, which is known as Gelem Gelem (or Djelem Djelem).

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