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Home » About Rajasthan » Gypsy of Rajasthan

Gypsy of Rajasthan

A Brief Note about Gypsies , Rajasthan
The Gypsies, Roma, the ethnic minority who brought to the West the spark of a vibrant culture, left the Indian subcontinent about a thousand years ago embarking on a migration that scattered them all over the world. The culture they left behind remained unscathed throughout the centuries,isolated within the barriers of their hostile habitat: the Thar Desert of Rajasthan.

Still nomadic, with their unique gift for artistic self-expression, these independent spirits roam freely throughout the desert today as their ancestors did at the time of the migrations. "Once the Gypsies" will attempt to capture the dramatic, colorful and personal story of the current nomadic tribes in the region, following the travels of carts and camel caravans on the open roads of the Thar Desert. Gypsy of Rajasthan

Brief History of the Gypsies
Before they left India, little is known about the culture which generated the Gypsies, except for their migrations, within and out of India. Linguistics and historians believe that the Gypsies were originally from North Central India. Their first known migration started around 300 BC, when they moved to North Western India. The Persian Book of Kings relates an incident corroborated by independent chronicles that took place in the fifth century, when the Indian King Shankal made a gift of 12.000 musicians to the Shah of Persia. It is assumed that those musicians were the ancestors of the Roma since after a year the Shah sent them away from Persia.

Why and when, then, the Roma left India is clouded in uncertainty, yet some scholars state that the Gypsies entered southeastern Europe in the last quarter of the 13th Century. Because they arrived in Europe from the East, they were thought by the first Europeans to be from Turkey, Nubia or Egypt, or any number of non-European places. They were called, among other things, Egyptians or 'Gyptians, which is where the word "Gypsy" comes from. All analysis seem to corroborate the fact that the Roma ancestors are linked to this common lineage in India. As well, the Roma have been known as entertainers and inspired musicians in every country they have traveled, as some of the nomadic groups present in the Thar Desert today.

Gypsies in Rajasthan

Bopa
In Rajasthan it is not uncommon to see people with green eyes. Among the lowest castes are the Bopa and Kalbeliya Gypsies. In spite of their low status, these beautiful people are proud of their roots. Both Kalbeliya and Bopa people make a living by performing songs and dances. In recent decades, the Maharajahs have gone and Indian and foreign tourists have replaced the royal audiences.

Kalbeliya
The Kalbeliya Gypsy people are known as the snake charmer caste. The women are skilled dancers and are accompanied by men playing percussion and wind instruments. The Kalbeliya were once hired to entertain great kings and maharajahs. Today they are sadly considered to be squatters and experience much discrimination. They struggle to preserve their culture and dances. They follow Indian fairs and festivals hoping to get hired to perform dances in hotels and private resorts.

The Kuna
The Kuna are known for their fierce pride and serious composure but they have a warm sense of humor in relaxed situations. This young woman is amused at the attention she receives from visitors. Perhaps she smiles because she knows she is about to be paid. The Kuna know the value of their faces as subjects for photos and expect compensation for each shot.

The Bhils - The Bow Men of Rajasthan
The Bhils form an important group, which inhabits mainly the southern districts of Rajasthan and the surrounding regions of Udaipur and Chittaurgarh. The generic term, which describes their tribe apparently, derives its name from bil, meaning bow, which describes their original talent and strength.
The Bhils practice endogamy, marrying with a narrow kinship. Their Gods like Pantha and Vina, hold a special sway over their minds.Their other deities honor the primeval needs of the pastoral society. Nandevro is worshipped as the presiding deity of corn, while Gwali is the goddess of milk. The god of agriculture is Heer Kulyo.

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