Thursday, April 8, 2010



Roma celebrate International Day of the Roma worldwide

Prague, 7.4.2010, 21:09, (ROMEA)

The International Day of the Roma is commemorated on 8 April. When and how did this day come about, and who celebrates it? Do you know other attributes of Romipen that connect Roma all over the world? If not, read on.

In 1971, the first-ever World Roma Congress took place near London thanks to the initiative of Grattan Puxon and Donald Kenrick of Great Britain; Matéo Maximoff, a representative of the Manouche in France; Jarko Jovanović of the former Yugoslavia; other Romani individuals and students of Romani studies who officially formed the basis of what is today the International Romani Union (IRU). The congress was attended by not quite 30 participants who approved the design of the Roma flag and the international Roma anthem. Delegates also officially established the first international Romani organization, initially called the World Romani Union. They also officially approved the use of the term “Rom” instead of “Gypsy”.

Two more IRU congresses followed, and during the fourth congress in Warsaw in 1990, the 8th of April was recognized as an international holiday. The day was selected because it was the day on which international Roma cooperation was given the official seal of approval and the Romani movement achieved an international, sociopolitical dimension. On this day, celebrants are meant to remember their common cooperation, culture, language, origin, unity, and primarily, their Romipen.

International Roma Day has been celebrated in the Czech Republic since the 1990s. Czech organizers of this holiday do their best to participate in the unified symbolism that applies to each different year. In 2002, for example, the holiday began with the lighting of candles. In 2003, Roma symbolically threw flowers into the rivers of the Amazon, the Nile, the Vltava and many others. In 2004 a young linden tree was planted in Prague’s “Letenské sady” public garden to symbolize national minorities planting their roots here.

The tradition of celebrating 8 April is strongest in the Balkans and the former Yugoslavia. The tradition is not as strong in the Czech Republic because awareness of the holiday only began in the mid-1990s. The International Day of the Roma enjoyed its greatest moment of popularization (mainly in Christian countries) in the year 2000, thanks to Pope John Paul II, who made use of a general address to popularize the day and call on the faithful to behave toward the Roma with greater respect.

The Roma flag

One of the designers of the flag was Dr W. R. Rischi, a linguist and Roma scholar from Chandigarh, India who founded the Romani Studies Centre in that country. Dr Rischi passed away on 1 December 2002.

The Roma flag is comprised of two horizontal bands, the lower green band symbolizing the Roma connection with nature and the upper blue band the Roma connection with heaven, philosophy, spirituality, etc. The wheel in the middle, which covers both bands, symbolizes life on the road and wandering. It is based on the ancient Indian wheel of fate. Originally it had 16 spokes and its bright red color corresponds to the first chakra, the earth element.

The Roma national anthem

Lyrics for the international Roma anthem “Gelem, Gelem” were set to a traditional melody by the Romani musician and politician Jarko Jovanović of Belgrade, who has lived in Paris for many years now. Czech and Slovak Roma have their own anthem, “Čhajori Romani”, which was composed in the concentration camp at Auschwitz. The international hymn was not adopted here until the 1990s.

1 comment:

Casimire said...

Why don't we try to get recognition for International Romani Day in this country? Make it official, enough support and it could happen!!!How many signatures could we get over the internet? Other sites could be interested as well, Voice of Roma for example!