MRE16 Roma in Turkey – The Untold Struggle

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Two years ago, when the Roma (Gypsy) Taxi driver in Bucharest to my amazement almost understood my conversation with my wife in the native tongue of Rajasthan, a north western state in India, I decided to work on this and find out how.

Since the Taxi Driver understood the language of Rajasthan, I went through the history of Rajasthan or Rajputana as it was originally called and discovered that there was a huge exodus of the tired soldiers of the army of great Rajput King Prithviraj Chauhan around 1050 AD who, as the history says, fought 17 wars with Mohammed Ghauri. Most left with women folks leaving empty villages. Most Roma belong to the fine Rajput warrior caste and others were farmers called Jat who also were in the army.

While the great king was keen on continuing battles, many soldiers did not want to fight more wars and stayed at home. For a Rajput staying at home during war was a stigma. They were taunted for staying home at the time of war.

Therefore, as a folk song of Rajasthan says, they left their native land in groups. They left from no other part of India. Some went west and are called Gypsies or Roma now and some went down to south India where they still are in their red and yellow color clothes and with huge mustache. You can see them on google by clicking "Lambada in south India". I am from Rajasthan but live in south Indian city of Hyderabad and hence see Lambadas daily.

I was further shocked again when our Gypsy (Lambada) maid mostly understood an old Hungarian Roma lady talking in Romani about Nazi atrocities on a BBC program on TV while I understood it by reading the English captions. Apparently, the two ladies 9000 miles away now spoke same language spoken about 1000 years ago in their land of origin. We being from Rajasthan still use many of their words.

On the way to west, Roma took words from Persian like bibi and many other tongues including Greek (drost for road) and from Armenian and so on. Also, few joined them on the way from Sindh, another Indian province, now in Pakistan. They are still called Sinti within Roma and words like laklo, lakli, chavo are from Sindhi.

They somehow lost their surnames of fine Rajput warrior clans. Roma may try to find surnames like Sisodia, Chauhan, Shekhawat, Nainavat Rathore, etc. But they kept first Indian names until 19th century like Amos Bihari and his daughter Panna Cinkova, both great Roma musicians from Hungary. Panna meaning Emerald is a pure Rajasthani name not used in other parts of India. You may look in Google for “Panna Cinka ". If they were not Indians, why otherwise would they have Indian names in Europe in the year 1711?

Today Roma use many of the words from Rajasthani (or Marwari) and Hindi, both of Sanskrit origin. Few are ek do trin nak(nose) bal(hair)angusth(finger) bersh(year) diwas(day) sassu sussro ( mother and father in law, from rajasthani) saalo Sali (brother and sister in law from Rajasthani) chora(boy) chori(girl) cior(chor, meaning thief)) gia sov, thalle, upral purano (old ), dukh, kasht, tato, langhal(lame) maang, des, lajja and so on. About half are from Rajasthani and Hindi both of which originate from Sanskrit. I know hundreds. There are thousands. Luis Mori, another Roma has sent me a huge list of Romani words which I match with my Roma maid's vocabulary. Sometimes grammar has changed to European style, like we would say sov gia and Roma would say gia sov. Same meaning though. Has slept.

Also, all Indian languages including today's Rajasthani has two yous, one for Junior and one for senior. Romani and the language of Lambada even today have only one you which is "tu" used for Juniors and for very close ones which must have been so 1000 years ago.

All Roma had mustache which was necessary for Rajput warriors. Purity codes of Roma were till recently practiced in India like Roma breaking the plate if animal licked it. My mother used to give the plates to beggars if our dog ever licked it even once. Also, food once served on table but not eaten does not go back to Fridge or saved for eating later. That is why death rate within Roma during great European plague was so low as claimed by scholars.

Roma had also carried our proverbs like "while choosing a daughter in law, believe your ears more than eyes” meaning reputation of the girl's family was more important than her beauty. Another common proverb is "If the road is crooked, you can't walk straight."

Roma eventually lost their religion, quite understandably but Sara kali of southern France is a Hindu deity of Goddess kali favourite of Rajputs. The deity is immersed in water body every year like we do in India. The Vatican has not recognized this deity as it has no link to Christianity. Romani also has an unusual word"trishul" from Sanskrit and Hindi meaning a spear with three fingers. This spear is associated with Hindu God Mahadev or Shiva and the war cry of Rajputs Regiment in India till today is " Har har Mahadev".

He also links Romani with Sanskrit while truth is that Romani has words from Rajasthani and Hindi alone both of which originate from Sanskrit. Romani is made of languages which have Sanskrit base and directly from Sanskrit. There are many words in Romani which none else from India except those from Rajasthan will understand like tato meaning hot. He also says Roma are Doms who burn dead bodies which is certainly not true. Doms live about 1000 miles away from Rajasthan and are dark skinned.

Many Roma have come to Delhi and Jaipur in Rajasthan to get their DNA tested and were doubly assured of their Rajasthan roots.

As a student in the US during seventies, I saw some slightly brown students speaking language somewhat familiar to me. They said they were new Roma migrants to the US from Spain but I did not know about Roma at that time.

I have received many mails from some Roma stating Roma were Doms and untouchables from India and so on. This should not be true. First, there are no Doms in Rajasthan. Second, Roma who came to south still have mostly Rajput surnames or "Gotras" and very few Bhil (a jungle tribe, but soldiers too) surnames. Gotras or lineages dont change in India. Third, down trodden and timid would not venture leaving home to travel thousands of miles and fourth, Doms are very dark even for Indian standards while Roma are not. Fifth, Romani has many war related words including a word for prisoner of war as Dr. Hancock says. Only a martial clan would use and keep alive these words.

There should be no doubt that Roma are our lost pral and Pena (We would say pra and behna). Hats off to them to keep the language and culture alive even after 50 generations while humanity in the entire world now melts away in two generations.

I am in contact with many European Roma from whom I gather some new facts time to time. I have also gathered the above information from history of Rajasthan.

Shriprakash Loya

Author — shree prakash Loya


Metuš Abicim cok Iyisin sana cokcok selm olsun Allah senden Razi elam sanaolsun Elerinden Öperim Insan gibi Insansin dinimzde Irkcilik yok s

Author — Mukjerem Sulejmanova


So sad to see Roma people being treated like outsiders in their own countries where they have lived for hundreds of years

Author — Maska Lagao


I love Romas.. and the one who spoke at the end made me cry..

Author — Rosa Rosalia


Asil Melek Müslüman Romanlar ve onlara Haksizlik Tüm Dünyada yapiliyor Ne Roman olursa olsun Onlari Sevmiyorlar Nedenini Bilmiyorum Albuki Tüm Romanlar Iyidir

Author — Mukjerem Sulejmanova


Rengimiz ne olursa olsun göz yaşı rengimiz aynıdır Türküm doğruyum roman oğluyum elhamdülillah Müslümanım

Author — Sezginsaadet10 Davulcu


sad the way Turkey is treating the Roma

Author — George Papadopoulos


Roman, Kurt, Alevi, Laz, vs, vs biz hepimiz aynisyiz, ayni insaniz. Kulturumuz, dilimiz, rengimiz, dinimiz farkli olabilir, birbirimize saygi gostermeliyiz ve yasamaliyiz. Simdi Turkiye de bir ayrimcilik, irkcilik furyasi var, almis basini gidiyor, Baslarin dada da yalanci, sahtekar diktator tayyip Erdogan var. Butun ezilenler, birlesin ve esitlik, ozgurluk, daha iyi bir hayat icin, baris ve kardeslik icin calisin. Hakkinizi arayin, sonuna kadar, boyun egmek yok.

Author — shane


The largest Gypsy population around 5 to 7 million lives in Turkey! Even those girls on the street discussing with the Roma girl from Hungary are Roma themselves! But, they are denying this! Just take a look on her face, same like the gypsy girl from Hungary! They are all gypsies and not ethnic Turks at all!

Author — Friedrich Kass


nothing of much value seems to be said here
and the intereiwees maybe dont seem to make any real rations or maybe-sentient sense
they maybe take the mick
take care anyway

Author — Beakford Flappering