The Romani People

The Romani Culture

Coming from such a diverse background, there is no universal culture as such, but there are some aspects of Romani culture that are common to most Roma: that of loyalty to family, belief in God and the Devil, belief in pre-destiny, and Romani standards. Not every tribe of Romani agrees on what is "Roma", but most agree with the tradition of story telling. Traditions and family values are passed on through the learned talent of bringing pleasure to the listener, where truth, family and traditions passed down through the ages are woven in a dance of life and freedom. All are gifted orally as well as skilled in beautiful and lively dance, music and various crafts.

Romani dance and music specifically, are a way of life and a very individualistic form of expression. The performer abandons themselves to their art and breaths their own life into it. The dances, music, and instruments represent freedom, life and spiritual expression.

The wheel represents the sixteen-spoke chakra, which was accepted in 1971 at the First World Romani Congress in London as the Romani Symbol.  It is a link to their Indian culture and represents movement as befits their people.  The green and blue flag with this symbol in the centre was adopted as the Romani Flag. 

The Romani Language

Romani consists of a number of dialects belong to the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages.  Most speak some form of Romani, but others speak a dialect of local languages with aspects of the Romani language.  It is mostly a spoken language versus a written language, and has been influenced by the travels each tribe has experienced.

The Romani Character

The proper Romani Gypsy is true to his word, warm and generous, and protective of his family.  They are proud of their ethnic background, and draw immense fulfillment from their legacy.  Their ancestors and descendants are a huge source of pride, and their word in business dealings is both fair and in the owners' best interest.  If a sale is to be made, they will do anything they can to ensure that the buyer feels they have won the best sale for the best price.  It is part of the experience in ensuring that the buyer leaves the transaction feeling that they have the best of the bargain. 

Aside from business dealings, a Gypsy will never give in on his father's faith, his mothers' blood, or his family heritage to those of the non-Gypsy, the gadjo – as it is considered unacceptable and sometimes risky to involve oneself in dealings with the outside world.