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ROMA THE PUNJABI EMIGRANTS ABROAD

 

ROMA THE PUNJABI EMIGRANTS ABROAD

Dr. W. R. Rishi

Roma are the Punjabi people who migrated abroad centuries ago. Proud of being Punjabis these intelligent and enterprising people are still preserving their linguistic, cultural and physical distinctions, peculiar to the Punjabis only.

please also see article in Punjabi:

http://www.punjabmonitor.com/2013/05/roma-punjabi-immigrants-overseas-since.html


Thd Roma (the so-called Gypsies of Europe, Russia, Central and Middle Asia and the Americas) are mainly the descendents of the Rajputs and the Jats of Nsrth India, comprising the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Union Territory of Delhi and adjacent parts of Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir. The ancestors of the Roma were forced to migrate to foreign lands after the Muslim invasions started during llth to 13th centuries A.D. The emigrants were not only Rajputs, but also Jats and Khatris (Kshatriyas), the rulers of principalities or the heads of republics and the fighter and warrior class. ln order to be self-sufficient and to allow inner mobility they attracted men and women from all the population groups which included Lobanas, Ranjaras and Tandas (classed under traders), Saudagars (horse dealers), Lohars (ironsmiths), Munition makers, priests Gujjars (from Sanskrit word 'gocar"cow grazers) etc. In the inimitable words  of Mr. S,S. Ray, a former governor of Punjab, the Roma are the first NRls (Non-resident Indians). Whenever one talks of the Roma of Europe etc., one at once erroneously connects them with the so-called gypsies of India
The word gypsy used in dealing with tribes is employed in purely conventional sense of vagrant' and should not be taken in any way to suggest their connection with the I the Roma of Europe etc. All over India, there are nomad castes or tribes who are gypsy like in their mode of life habits, trades and character but they use the dialects of the districts whence they come or where they are found, differing entirely from one another and in no way resembling the Romani people and their language. The Roma people possess distinctive North Indian cultural and physical traits and all speak Romani language which has its base in Sanskrit. Most of their customs, habits and modes of life and living strikingly resemble the people of Punjab and its surrounding areas that they can aptly be called our close cousins.
The writer Dr. W. R. Rishi an ex-IFS, is an authority on Roma Studies. Primarily a scholar of Russian languages, he is the author of the first ever published Russian-Hindi Dictionary which has a Dr. W. R. Rishi forward by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. He has been awarded Padamshri for his contribution in the field of Linguistics; Shromani Sahitkar by Punjab Govt. and the Soviet Land Nehru Award. He is the Honorary President of International Romani Union, Director of the Indian Institute of Romani Studies and Editor of journal on ROMA. He is also available on the world’s INTERNET Web, with the details of his book on ROMA. Those who have connection with INTERNET and are interested to get authentic information about the Roma can contact at No.  http://www.aloha.net/bohem/rishroma.html
They are called by different names in different countries: Manush (a Sanskrit word) in France, Sinti (Sindhi ?) in Germany, Tsigani in the former USSR, Bulgaria etc., Multani in Central Asian Republics of the former Soviet Union, Zotts (Jats) in Middle Asia, Kale (Black) and Gitano in Spain, Kalderash (kaltarash makers of machines) in some of other countries, Badguljiye in Yugoslavia etc.
To denote themselves as a close-knit nationality, they have adopted for themselves the name Roma (singular is Rom) and hate to be referred to as Gypsies. With the passage of time, the names of their gods and goddesses have changed but the ideas and the ideals symbolised by them are the same and so are many of the rituals connected with them. Now, for example, St. Sarah. is the Goddess of Fate and Fortune of the Roma. The idol of St. Sarah is enshrined in the crypt of the church of St. Maries de la Mer, a village on the Mediterranean Sea coast in the south of France. A fair is held from 23rd May to 25th May every year when the Roma from all countries of the world come to pay homage to their Goddess. They burn candles and offer clothes etc. to their Goddess. ln the evening the idol of St.Sarah is taken in a pro- cession to the Sea coast followed by huge crowds of Roma singing and chanting "Vive St. Sarah". Symbolic immersion, of the idol in the Mediterranean waters is performed, the statue being brought back and placed once again in the crypt of the church. St. Sarah is none else than the Indian Goddess Durga whose idol is taken in a procession during the Durga pooja (worship) in October every year in India and is, thereafter, immersed in the nearby river or pond. perhaps the Roma do not immerse the idol of St. Sarah and are content only with its symbolic immersion because it is not only costly but also difficult to make a new one every year. But they continue to follow the Indian rituals to this day.' On further research it was found that St. Sarah is in fact Sati Sara (Sati sar) Indian goddess Uma (consort of Lord Siva) who is also worshipped on various occasions in different forms and names such as Bhadrakali (Kali), Shyama (Black Goddess), Durga, Kalhana's Raj Trangini and Nilmata.
The Romani language also belongs to the new Indian languages of India (or lndo- Aryan) branch of the lndo-European family of languages' ln other words, Romani may be regarded as an Indian language spoken outside India, which like other vernaculars has assumed some- thing resembling 'its present form after the break-up of the older synthetic system. Romani language can be called a dialect of Punjabi language spoken outside India. Romani has an influence of the Rajasthani language but it is closer to Punjabi language and contains a large number of words which are the same in the Punjabi language. Professor Saip Jusuf of erstwhile Yugoslavia says. "We, today's Roma, originating from our ancient land, India, have carried our old Punjabi language from which the present Romani language is strengthened, as a dialect of Punjabi, through different parts of the world and to this have been added the words of languages of those among whom we have lived for many years." The affinity between the two languages - Punjabi and Romani is so close that with a little knowledge of the structure of Romani language' a person knowing Punjabi language can easily understand the Romani language and vice versa. The PunJabi University, Patiala, has already published my research work entitled "Roma - The Punjabi Emigrants to Europe, the USSR, the Americas etc." and the Language Department of Punjab has published my Romani-Punjabi-English Dictionary and Romani-Punjabi- English Conversation Book. 
The Roma have migrated fro northern India. Their ABO (a syste of classifying blood groups by which different sets of people can be identified) frequencies also strongly support such an origin. The distribution of blood groups among the Roma corresponds to that of the high military castes in India, and are characterised not by the high percentage of group B alone but by the most stable distribution of the percentage of ABO that may be found in India and Europe. To highlight these affinities between the Romani people and their Indian counterparts, the Roma first organised themselves in 1971, when the First World Romani Congress was held in London. The Second Congress was held at Geneva in '1978 when they passed a resolution formally declaring themselves as persons of Indian origin. The 3rd Romani Congress was held in '1981 at Gottingen (W.Germany) and here they recalled the genocide of half a million of Roma by the Nazis. This was admitted by the then German Chancellor Schmidt officially and he promised to help them as much as possible. The fourth World Romani Congress was held at Warsaw (Poland) in 1990. In India also, the Indian Institute of Romani Studies was formally inaugurated by late Giani Zail Singh, the then Chief Minister of Punjab, at Chandigarh on the 24 December, 1973, before a distinguished gathering and the student community at the Panjab University campus at Chandigarh in 1976. More than 60 prominent Roma delegates participated in this Festival. The Roma kissed the sacred soil of India and were able to meet their Indian phralas (brethren). People of India also got the opportunity to see, with their own eyes, their Roma phralas who till today have preserved Indian language and culture which their ancestors carried to distant lands.
 Shrimati lndira Gandhi and the late Shri Fakhrrudin Ali Ahmed the then President, met the Romani delegates. Shrimati Indira Gandhi was with them for more than an hour, and called them the messengers of peace. She also added that she has been taking interest in the Roma since her childhood. The second International Roma Festival was also held at Chandigarh from 29th to 31st October, 1083. Top Roma leaders and artistes from several countries participated in it. The festival was inaugurated by the then Prime Minister, Shrimati lndira Gandhi. Welcoming the Roma delegates and artistes to their ancestral land, she declared that she felt a deep kinship with the Roma people.
Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister (at that time a Member of Parliament) was the Chief Guest at the Festival. Shrimati Sonia Gandhi and Master Rahul Gandhi also graced the occasion with their presence.
 The Festival had a great impact and helped the Roma to get better social, economic and political status in the countries of their present residence.
ln the guiding note received. from the Union Ministry of Education about the establishment of the North Zonal Cultural Centre at Patiala in Punjab, it is emphasized together the " Selection of images characterising Punjabi's contribution to India's  culture :
 In this context, the project would emphasize separate identities as well as similarities in a sense that would symbolize our unity in diversity. This could be illustrate by the evolution of art forms, the basic unity of dance movements and the subsequent changes and improvisations. In this connection, Roma culture could be not only one of the crucial projections but also illustrate the impact of the Zone on World Culture. "
Nehru Roma House and Museum has since been established in a spacious hall in the Shivalik Public School in Sector 41, Chandigarh. lt has been dedicated to Jawaharlal Nehru who was the first Prime Minister of India to meet the Roma in Yugoslavia during one of his visits. Jawaharlal Nehru, during his visit to Yugoslavia, expressed a desire to get in touch with the Roma, he organized this contact and was there too. "Nehru was very happy about this meeting", says Mr. Alesh Bebler, an important social and political personality of Yugoslavia, in his report to the President of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia.
Nehru Roma House and Museum at Chandigarh houses valuable material on the life and culture of the Roma viz. rare books, journals in different languages of the world e.g. English, Romani, Russian, German, French,' Serbo-Croat, Finnish, Swedish, Dutch, Hindi, Punjabi etc., audio visual cassettes, photographs, slides, gramophone records and C.D's. This material, which I had been collecting for the last about 20 years, has been donated by me. The Nehru Roma House and Museum has since become a pilgrimage centre for the Roma of the world and a unique research centre for Romanologues.
Thus it is a matter of deep delight that our mutual efforts have brought our long separated brethren closer to the ethnic and cultural stream of their homeland. They feel proud to have their old link with Punjab as we also feel joyous of establishing our kinship with the enterprising Roma people.   

Please also see:

RISHI SAW BRIGHT FUTURE FOR ‘ROMA MUSEUM’ CHANDIGARH - 


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The following news item from THE TELEGRAPH London (27-10-1984)
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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/9719058/European-Roma-descended-from-Indian-untouchables-genetic-study-shows.html


European Roma descended from Indian 'untouchables', genetic study shows


Roma gypsies in Britain and Europe are descended from "dalits" or low caste "untouchables" who migrated from the Indian sub-continent 1,400 years ago, a genetic study has suggested.
Women and children from the Roma community stand in front of a former gendarmerie barrack that has been requisitioned by a group of associations and citizens to house them in Marseille, Southern France


Gypsies have long believed they have origins in India, citing common Sanskrit words in their languages and photographs of darker-skinned ancestors in South Asian clothes, while earlier research has offered some scientific support for their suspicions.
Now a study led by Indian and Estonian academics, including Dr Toomas Kivisild of Cambridge University, has confirmed their origins in the Indian sub-continent, and even identified the location and social background from which they emerged.
The findings have been welcomed by Britain's Gypsy Council, which said it would help to promote understanding of Roma people throughout Europe. "We are Britain's first Non-Resident Indian community," said council spokesman Joseph Jones.
The study, which was published this month in the journal Nature, examined Y chromosomes in DNA samples to compare the genetic signatures of European Roma men with those of thousands of Indians from throughout the sub-continent.
Scientists from Hyderabad's Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology collaborated with colleagues in Estonia and Switzerland to compare more than 10,000 samples, including from members of 214 different Indian ethnic groups. They were analysed to match a South Asian Y chromosome type known as "haplogroup H1a1a-M82", which passes down male bloodlines, with samples from Roma men in Europe.

While there were matches with samples from men throughout the Indian sub-continent, the closest match and the least genetic variation occurred with those from north-west India.
When the researchers overlaid the closest matches onto a genetic map of India, the highest density was in areas dominated by India's "doma", "scheduled tribes and castes" – the low caste dalits or untouchables who suffer widespread and generational discrimination and usually do society's dirtiest jobs.
The researchers believe the descendants of today's Roma gypsies in Europe began their westward exodus first to fight in wars in what is today Punjab between 1001 and 1026 on the promise of a promotion in caste status.
Later, they left to flee the fall of Hindu kingdoms in what is today Pakistan, with many setting off from near Gilgit.
The exodus to North Africa and Europe suggested they may have been early refugees from the spread of Islam into the Indian sub-continent. Dr Kivisild said the study had provided "evidence for the further interpretation of history of what kind of processes were triggerimg these movements".
Gypsy groups in Britain trace their own roots back first to Egypt – where they believe the name "gypsy" comes from – and beyond that to India. Joseph Jones of the Gypsy Council said early photographs show British gypsies with Indian facial features and styles of dress until 100 years ago.
He said the new study was helpful because it had scientifically confirmed the Indian origin of Britain and Europe's Roma community and that their common heritage should be accepted now by newer Indian communities in Britain. "We're not outcasts here. I don't care if we are associated with dalits – I don't live in a community where caste exists. I do feel a bit Indian, I've always felt an affinity with Indians," he said.
Gypsies were first noticed in Britain in around 1500 and acquired a reputation as itinerant craftsmen, traders and horse dealers.

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2 comments:

hdwallpaperhub.com said...

Punjabi Culture are really very colorful. I like their culture.

Anonymous said...

Pen chodh the article says that Roma are descended from Dalits and other low castes and you are claiming them to be Rajput in origin? Haha

Punjabis are mostly low caste Shudra and Dalit people, not hight castes like Rajputs. Punjab is Dalitstan. Most Pakistanis are Punjabis and every body knows Paki is converted from Shudra castes and Dalit.

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