Said to be of Indian origin, the Romas descended from groups like Dom, Banjara, Gujjar, Sansi, Chauhan, Sikligar, Dhangar, and other nomadic groups from northwest India. From preserving the Hindi words in their language to other striking similarities with the Indian mass, the people of Roma want to be treated as “Indian diaspora”.
Despite their migration hundreds of years ago, they have successfully been capable of including Hindi words like ‘naak’ (nose), ‘kaan’ ( ear), ‘muh’ (mouth) in their dialect.
Over 35 scholars from 15 countries gathered at the three-day International Roma Conference and Cultural Festival 2016. The event included Roma film festival and cultural performances of music and dance, with an exhibition on the Roma migration from India.
The event organised by the ICCR and the Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad (ARSP)-Bharat saw ICCR President Lokesh Chandra claiming that the Roma community made an immense contribution to building London, which is counted among the most developed and amazingly planned modern cities.
The three-day festival witnessed the arrival of Jovan Damjanovic, president of World Roma Organisation. He said: “Roma people are an Indian Nation, the autochthonous territory of south-eastern and Western Europe, but also in other parts of the world, with all attributes that make them a special national entity. We would like to be treated as Indian diaspora and can make a contribution to our country of origin’s growth.”
Hailing from Israel, the Vice President and Commissioner for Culture of World Roma Organisation, Valery Novoselsky said at the event: “There are many linguistic similarities between Hindi and Romani languages. From counting, yek 1, dui 2, trin 3, panch 5, desh 10, to basic everyday words we find that a lot of our words are there in the Hindi Language as well.”
Novoselsky exclaimed he was “happy to be in Bharat, the land of my ancestors. Here I feel accepted and understood by the society as if my ancestors never left this country 1,000 years ago. The spirit of Bharat is strong and kind. We know that we are ONE with the people of India. These links of history, culture and spirit are inseparable.”
In a display of belongingness towards the Roma community the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, also present there, said that Romas spread across the world are the children of India.
“You are the children of India who migrated and lived in challenging circumstances in foreign lands for centuries. Yet you maintained your Indian identity,” Sushma Swaraj said while inaugurating the event.
In her speech, she further said: “A strong 20 million population of your community spread over 30 countries, encompassing West Asia, Europe, America and Australia speaks of your unique ability of adapting to foreign cultures. We in India are proud of you. Your ‘Baro Than’ once again welcomes you with an open heart.”
NewsGram had earlier done reporting on what the External Affairs Minister said in details:
Talking about the striking similarities between Indians and Romas, a Finnish Roma artist Benjam Akerlund present there said, “I knew we had Indian roots because my parents have always mentioned it. But now that we are in India we can see why the Roma people believe we are Indians by origin. The way people walk, talk and behave is exactly how Roma people do in Finland.”
“We can see a lot of similarities in the family structure, language, gestures, the way people dress and the most important to us as musicians is that the Indian music sounds very similar to ours. We think it is safe to say that we migrated from India a long time ago and it feels nice to be back as we feel loved.”
The Roma known by different names in different countries, like Zigeuner in Germany, Tsyiganes or Manus in France, Tatara in Sweden, Gitano in Spain, Tshingan in Turkey and Greece could help in estimating the date of their origin in and migration from India. The ICCR attempts to date the origin of these terms in foreign languages which could help in finding the date when the Romas first arrived in these foreign countries.(Image Source: thewire.in)