22/12/2018

ONE THOUSAND YEARS AGO EXACTLY TODAY

photo1.pngOn the 20th of December 1018 (namely 8 of Shaban 409 – Hegira calendar), Sultan Mahmūd of Ghaznī – ruler of a modest city in today's Afghanistan, arrived in front of the main gate of the city of Kannauj – in today's Uttar Pradesh (India).

 As the British historian Cunningham reports: "The situation is a commanding one and before the use of the canon, the height alone must have made Kannauj a strong and important position". Kannauj had been the capital city of Northern India in the 7th century A.D. and had remain since a major cultural, spiritual, artistic and economical centre, even a bone of contention between the three main dynasties of Indian: the Pala, the Rashtakuta and the Gurjara-Pratihara.

The sultan was coming to this former imperial city in search of artists and craftspersons, whom he needed to raise his local capital Ghaznī in Zabulistan at the rank of most beautiful city in the world. On the next day he entered the seven fortress of Kannauj, ransacked and looted the whole city – famous for its some 10,000 temples of all sizes, and after a few weeks of battles in surrounded areas, he headed back to Ghaznī with 53,000 prisoners "rich and poor, light and dark [...] most of them noblemen, artists and craftsmen, by entire families", 385 elephants and 16 huge chariots full of jewellery.

 This forcibly displaced captives - especially musicians and temple dancers, but also outstanding artisans, architects and perfumers, will form the core of what will become the core of the Rromani people. As they did not comply with the sultan's demands in terms of arts, they were sold to rich families of Khorasan, where they met the Turks on their way to today's Turkey. After the battle of Dandanaqan (1040), they all continued Eastward to Baghdad and later Northward to the Byzantine lands – where the soldiers could freely loot, since these were not Muslim countries.

 Linguistic evidences indicate that the area of the Rroms' origin was comparatively restricted (the kingdom of Kannauj) and the departure occurred in one go. However other populations (Persian, Turkish etc.) intermingled with the prisoners from Kannauj and inflated their number.

 End of Nov. – Beginning of Dec. 2018: prominent Indian institutions have commemorated the Millennium of this exodus: the ARSP (Indian Council for International Co-operation), supported by the ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations – a branch of the Foreign Office), the National Museum in New Delhi, the National University of Law in New Delhi, the University and the City Hall of Lakhnau and the Government Archaeological Museum of Kannauj – newly opened for this event etc. Several conferences were held, with a total of over 60 presentations (to be printed soon) and two Rromani exhibitions inaugurated. A festival is scheduled for 2019.

 The Foreign Minister of India, the Hon'able Sushma Swaraj, confirmed in a private meeting with European and American Rromani participants her will to acknowledge the Rroms as the very first historical diaspora from India (earlier expatriations from India concerned very small numbers of tradespersons and preachers – not enough to develop into a diaspora).

 

SOME VIEWS OF THE EVENTS:

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Some of the participants in front of the National Museum in New Delhi (29 Nov. 2018)

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Another poster (within the Museum): the president of the International Rromani Union – dr Normunds Rudevičs and the Indian researcher in Rromani studies Zameer Anvar.

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Opening of the Scientific Conference at the National Museum in New Delhi (29 Nov.2018) in presence of the ambassadors of Austria, Germany, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Serbia and Romania and many Indian high civil servants (from ICCR, ARSP, Indian Foreign Office etc.). There were 23 contributions – to be published soon.

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The president of the International Rromani Union, dr Normunds Rudevičs' delivering his presentation on "The significance of the Indo-Rromani link in terms of recognition, dignity and social harmony".

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Some participants in a coffee break with his Exc. the Ambassador of Austria to India.

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Invitation to the exhibition "The Millennium of Migration of Rromani People from India" at the National Museum in New Delhi (opening on 30 Nov. 2018).

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Views from the exhibition "The Millennium of Migration of Rromani People from India" at the National Museum in New Delhi (opening on 30 Nov. 2018).

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The Hon'ble Sushma Swaraj, Foreign Minister of India and Shri Shyam Parande, General Secretary of the ARSP during the private meeting with the Rromani participants in the Scientific Conference.

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Seminar at the University of Lakhnau (Uttar Pradesh) – from left to right: dr Marcel Courthiade (IRU Commissionner for Language and Linguistic Rights), Orhan Galjuš (IRU Media Commissionner), dr Normunds Rudevičs (president of the International Rromani Union), Hon'ble dr Virendra Gupta (ARSP president), dr I. P. Singh (rector of the University), Sanyukta Bhatia (mayor of Lakhnau) and Bajram Haliti (vice-president of the WRO).

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In front of the Government Archaeological Museum of Kannauj

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Visiting the hall dedicated to Rromani Culture at the Government Archaeological Museum of Kannauj (temporary exhibition to be replaced by a standing gallery) 

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Traditional welcome to the Rromani delegation to Kannauj – "back home after 1000 years"

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The importance of Rromani women (from left to right : dr Ana Dalila Gómez – a lawyer from Colombia, Maja Familić – a poet and painter from Serbia and Sonia Styrkacz – a researcher in psychology from Poland)

 

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Proud of our roots.

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With the renowned poet and fighter for justice Jeevan Shukla, from Kannauj.

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The main session of the Conference on linguistic justice at the National University of Law in New Delhi (05 Dec. 2018).

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View of the assistance (there were three sessions in parallel).

 

WHAT ABOUT THE INTEREST OF THE RROMS IN ALL THAT?

1) First of all the affirmation of historical truth about the Rroms' origin – and discarding of all fake assumptions about origins from Egypt, Israel, Sumer, Atlantis and even... European garbage or people without any origin. As the historian Benjamin Stora states "Life in denial always exposes you to dangerous memory returns". Historical lies and omissions have never resulted in sustainable progress. Locking Rroms into a fake identity of "travellers" is by no means a better solution – even though it is very fashionable even today.

2) A basis to convince mainstream society change their vision of Rroms from potential or actual extraneous bodies (first called Gypsies and renamed *Roma [!!!]) to their recognition as Rromani citizens of the World, with their specific history, heritage and capacities – indeed disregarded and scorned in most historical periods but nonetheless extant and even rich.

3) The first benefit should be the recognition of the Rroms as an entity, allowing to combat the new (soft) methods of elimination: namely conceptual elimination – based on the assumption that this people does not exist at all (except when it is a target of slanders and accusations) and therefore that any manifestation arising from the Rroms is void and non existing, deserving no reply or response.

What was the "figure of the Gypsy" so far (irrespectively of the label in use) ?

  • poor, dirty and ragged, with dark complexion, lazy and idle, vagrant and beggar, liar, deceiver and thief (even children's thief), cheater, ignorant and careless, parasitic and greedy (today profiteer of social benefits), quarrelsome and violent, even dangerous, fierce and resistant to any form of integration, backward, irresponsible, opportunistic, disbeliever, homeless and without stable religion, of course without morals,
  • but beautiful and seductive, indeed mischievous but resourceful, paramount musician and no less good dancer, generous in his hospitality, holder of fantastic occult knowledge and particularly skilled for the adventure, loving freedom and wide spaces, always merry – in a word an accomplished marginal, almost an extraterrestrial...
  • and also today – after the fashion of bigotery a passive victim, scapegoat, excluded, persecuted, ill-treated, harassed, marginalized and nothing else – not a citizen, not a partner, not a fellow-national.

Unfortunately, human-rights bigots have been satisfied with the simple change of the label from "Gypsy" to "Roma", with hardly any modification of the stigma behind the words.

 

However, thanks to the affirmation of a thousand year long history of excellent integration of the Rroms into various society (except obviously when rejected, excluded, chased, literally hunted as wild beasts, hung, burnt, gassed and slaughtered), the Rromani people should now finally access again the dignified place, they should never have lost and be recognized as one of the constitutive nations of Europe – as proclaimed in Prague in July 2000 at the Rromani World Congress, a nation with no compact territory developed from the very first historical diaspora from India.

 

MORE PRAGMATICALLY:

  • The Rromani people’s benefit

Recognition of a real cradle of origin and therefore acquisition of dignity and a “speaking up voice” – ceasing to be orphans or Lilith's step-sons...

Access to high level training in various fields (science, medicine, media, arts etc.).

Access to fiscal and customs facilities for business and investments.

Access to high level technologies of communication and applied psychological knowledge.

Support of a powerful state, with skilled lawyers and Human Rights fighters, to combat discrimination of all kind.

Mainly motivation for commitments by the youth – liberation from pure materialism

  • The benefit for India

Promotion of Indian cultural, spiritual and industrial wealth all over the world among social classes with poor access to it.

Integration into Indian culture of Rromani musical and artistic heritage and all the forgotten page of Indian history – the Rromani page.

Use of Rromani networks for business (import export, agriculture etc.).

Combat against worldwide rampant deceptive clichés underrating the Indian heritage.

  • Common benefit

Diffusion and implementation of a more human approach of economics.

Subjects for Bollywood productions.

Promotion of the Rromani spirit of peace beyond religious boarders (modern version).

 

 Dr Marcel COURTHIADE

@copyright crédit photos D.Chraïti

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