What do Charlie Chaplin, Elvis Presley and Pablo Picasso have in common? They all belong to the Roma community whose Indian roots will be discussed at the fifth Roma conference and cultural festival organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) here.
The three-day conference cum cultural festival would commence from Friday at Azad Bhawan, I.P. Estate here.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would inaugurate the conference that will see participation from 35 Roma delegates and a dozen artistes drawn from as many countries countries, ICCR director general C. Rajasekhar said.
Roma are said to be descendants of groups in India like Dom, Banjara, Gujjar, Sansi, Chauhan, Sikligar, Dhangar etc. and other nomadic groups from northwest India.
There are many reputed names who belong to the Roma community such as Pablo Picasso, Elvis Presley, Charlie Chaplin, two-times Oscar winner Michael Caine, Flamenco dancer Michaela Flores Amaya, tennis player Ilie Nastase, violinist Janos Bihari and Greek singer Glykeria Kotsoula.
“The Romani people constitute an important and colourful component of people of Indian origin. They cherish and maintain cultural and traditional practices of Indian heritage.
“We need to recognise and celebrate this and also need to promote greater awareness about this significant linkage,” Rajasekhar said.
“The Roma conference is also a reflection of Indian’s age old outlook, that the entire universe is one family, ‘vasudhaiva kutubakam’,” he added.
The Roma are known by different names in different countries like Zigeuner in Germany, Tsyiganes or Manus in France, Tatara in Sweden, Gitano in Spain, Tshingan in Turkey and Greece, Tsigan in Russia, Bulgaria and Romania and as Gypsies in Britain, according to Shashi Bala, joint secretary, Indian Council for International Cooperation.