Romani People

743 Words3 Pages
In the exaggerated, oblivious viewpoint of a person with no grasp on Romani peoples’ history, the ‘gypsies’ are often stereotyped as being the free-spirited, vehement, nonconforming, ritual-practicing, morally deficient nomadic bohemians with magical powers. These prejudicial and unrealistic romanticisms and derogatory labels divert people from acknowledging the rich Romani history and culture, and recognizing the hardships and persecution these people have endured for centuries.
Romani people, or Roma, originated in the Punjab region of northern India as a nomadic people. They entered Europe between the eighth and tenth centuries C.E., and were referred to with the politically incorrect and mildly derogative term ‘gypsies,’ because Europeans
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Also due to their migratory nature, a few of them attended school, and literacy was not common amongst the Romani people. Much of what is known about their culture is passed on through stories told by singers and oral histories. The Roma do not have an official faith, and have been known for typically scorning organized religion. However, today, they often adopt the predominant religion of the country where they are living. Some Roma groups are Catholic, Muslim, Pentecostal, Protestant, Anglican, or Baptist. Contrary to popular yet ill-informed belief, the Roma live by a complex set of rules and morals that govern things such as cleanliness, purity, respect, honor and justice. These rules are referred to as what is Rromano, the typical respect and dignity of any Romani person. All the varied groups of Romani peoples speak one general language called Rromanës, or the Romani language. This language is related to a northern Indian dialect called Punjab, and is spoken by about five to six million Roma people throughout Europe and the United…show more content…
Romani culture modernized with time, and had kept up with the rest of the world in developing their ways of life. However, keeping their culture alive and not fully assimilating into their host communities is paramount to Romani peoples. Even though Roma often adopt the religion of the places they settle, they stick mainly to their family and culture groups and sturdily hold on to longstanding traditions. Despite various misunderstandings about Romani women being known to be ‘suggestively’ dressed and provocative, traditional Romani culture has strict guidelines for the way women dress, and how they act around men; traditional Romani women would not be allowed to expose their bare stomachs or dress in skirts that have hemlines above their ankles. To this day, people tend to romanticize Romani culture and exotifying it, narrowing the entire Roma culture to crystal balls, tarot cards, fortune-telling and unconventional, carefree living. Another, more negative, narrow-minded perception of the Romani people is of them being thieves and petty swindlers, hence leading to the originating of the derogatory term ‘gyp,’ or ‘gipped,’ meaning ‘a fraud or a
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