Punjab Research Group

On the road: Centuries of Roma history

Posted in Articles by Pippa on July 14, 2009

Beginning a series on the modern-day plight of Roma Gypsies in Europe, by BBC Russian for the World Service, Delia Radu traces the ethnic group’s nomadic history back to northern India.

“Who are these people?” asks the man behind the counter in the photo store in Southall, an area also known as London’s Little India.

He is handing over my order: a hefty pile of colour photographs, of which a picture of two Roma women and their children (above) is the first.

“They look just like the Banjara in Rajasthan – that’s where I come from,” he says.

He points to a beautiful print on the wall, showing a glamorous group of female Banjara dancers.

The similarity is striking.

Historians agree that the Roma’s origins lie in north-west India and that their journey towards Europe started betweenthe 3rd and 7th Centuries AD – a massive migration prompted by timeless reasons: conflicts, instability and the seeking of a better life in big cities such as Tehran, Baghdad and, later on, Constantinople.Some of these Indian immigrant workers were farmers, herdsmen, traders, mercenaries or book-keepers. Others were entertainers and musicians. 

Full article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8136812.stm

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