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Romani Nationalism, Flag and Anthem

Opre Roma!

“Roma denotes them as a nation”, says WR Rishi(1).

“In 1971 the International Gypsy Committee organised the first World Romani Congress. This took place in a location near London … funded in part by the World Council of Churches and the Indian Government; representatives from India and some 20 other countries were in attendance. At the congress, the green and blue flag from the 1933 conference, now embellished with the red, sixteen-spoked chakra, was reaffirmed as the national emblem of the Romani people, and the anthem, Dzelem dzelem, since sung at all congresses, was adopted.”

The Roma FlagThe World Romani Congress have adopted a Romani flag which is respected by all the Roma the world over. It comprises of blue and green traditional colours with the red wheel in the centre. Blue is the blue sky and the heavens. Green is the land, organic and growing. The blue symbolises eternal spiritual values; the green earthly values. The wheel in the centre symbolises movement and progress.

The Roma National Anthem

Opre Roma

Gyelem, gyelem, longone dromensa,
Maladilem bakhtale Romensa.
A, Romale, katar tumen aven,
E tsarensa, bakhtale dromensa.
A, Romale,
A, Chhavale.
Vi mansa su bari familiya,
Mudardala e kali legiya;
Aven mansa sar e lumnyatse Roma
Kai phutaile e Romane dromensa.
Ake vriama, usti Rom akana,
Amen Khudasa misto kai kerasa.
A, Romale,
A, Chhavale.

English translation by Dr. Rishi, from Roma.

I travelled, travelled long roads,
Everywhere meeting happy Gypsies.
Oh Gypsies, where do you come from?
With tents on this happy road?
Oh Gypsies,
Oh my Gypsy boys.
Once I had a great family,
But they were killed by the Black Legion;
Come with me, all Gypsies of the world,
Help swell the Gypsy roads.
Now is the time, rise up Gypsies,
We will rise high through action.
Oh Gypsies,
Oh my Gypsy boys.

Anthem of the World Romani Congress, composed by Jarko Jovanovic to a traditional melody.

1. From Roma, by WR Rishi. Punjabi University, Patiala, India, 1976 & 1996

2. The Eastern European Roots of Romani Nationalism by Ian Hancock. in Crowe, David. and John Kolsti, eds. The Gypsies of Eastern Europe. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1991.

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