Tatcho Drom
Journeying Journals of a Jolly Journeyman

Romani Flag

Click HERE to download a zip file containing a variety of Romani flags I designed for your use. Please check out the “Read Me Please” file for important information for the use of the graphic flags.

Romani Flag

Introduction

The current Romani flag you see above was founded in 1971, at the World Romani Congress near London. Since 1933, the Romani have had a flag, but it didn’t have the Ashoka Chakra in the center until 1971.

To me, the Romani flag is an attempt by certain Romani authorities to bring a sense of oneness amongst the culturally diverse Roma. This is a blessing to many Romani Clans world wide. I know that many Roma want to be seen a people, not a life-style; Roma want to be seen as a culture, not a fashion; and the flag is a stepping stone to bringing this about.

Romani Cultural Diversity

A problem that could arise with having a flag is that it may give the impression that all Roma are culturally similar – which is very far from the reality.

From my understanding, Roma have to be one of the most culturally diverse people of the world.

There are various elements that give our Romani culture specifically unique traits, which may include:

  1. Geography and environment Romani group are living in
  2. Resources available to make a living and survive
  3. Education experienced, not necessarily schooling but this would influence the culture too
  4. Medical access and health levels for everyone in the clan
  5. Degree of cultural genocide suffered historically and presently (this is a big determining factor)
  6. Type of government the Romani group are living under
  7. Religion the Romani group have embraced or disguising themselves under

Roma have adapted in various ways to their desired countries. And all the above traits have influenced us in different ways. Some characteristics that may influence how deep Romani people adapt to the above cultural traits are:

  1. Tradition – How traditional are the Vitsa (Clan)? Do they want to remain reclusive or integrate into society (or a bit of both)?
  2. Survival – Survival instincts have led and continue to lead various Romany groups  to integrate. For example, some governments in certain countries are intolerant of our traditional spiritual persuasions. And it’s better to adapt, than lose your whole family to the force of societal laws.

Those who do adapt, adapt in various levels. Some adapt fully, for example, by not teaching their children their customs or language or even heritage, to protect their children from the persecution and harassment they, as parents, have suffered. Others adapt in part, having the appearance that they have integrated, but really, they are still as traditional as they come. This is common, as many Romani groups embrace the religion of their desired countries, such as Roman Catholicism, Islam, Christianity, but only for show or use them as a mask to perpetuate their own spiritual religions within these religions.

I don’t want to digress further into adaptation – my point is that Roma are very diverse. This is just an important point that I want to enunciate it clearly!

:-) Roma – Are – Very – Diverse ;-)

Our features differ from country to country. Our customs differ from country to country. Our language differs from country to country. Our religion differs from country to country.

That is why when I speak about the Romani people, I always make it clear that it is my Romani clans I’m associated with, and not Roma in general.

When it comes to my family, we are a very independent and reclusive group. I know that when I have spoken to some cousins, they don’t care who or what other Roma are doing or believe in. They are very family oriented, and that is their focus. In our clans, what matters the most, is not what Tom, Dick and Harry are up to in the next clan, but the welfare of our own people.

Realising the cultural diversity and variety amongst the Romani people, let us not assume that the flag represents one colour of Romani, when the Romani are as diverse as the spectrum. More so than most world cultures, you cannot put us in a single box and label us.

Romani Flag Interpretation

The flag represents to me not so much a cultural identity, but more so, a cultural ideology. I cannot see Romani people burning the flag, or dying for the flag. And I rarely find patriotic Roma.

The cultural ideology that I see in the flag is wonderful. It fills me with pride and a sense of oneness that some of our people have long lacked – despite our diversity, we are still brothers and sisters in blood and spirit.

An excellent point a Romani lady, Simonium, added, “… a very important difference between the Romany flag and all others (that I know of)? The flag is not a symbol of conquering or ownership of territory. The flag is not associated with land or country or nationalism. This concept is very foreign to most people. The flag is a symbol of a group of people, culture, identity NOT a symbol of ownership.” What a great point, huh? :-)

Now, to the colours and symbols of the flag, I think that the green and blue represent heaven and earth, but also Romanestan; or, in a broader sense, Mother Earth.

A member of the World Romani Congress stated that the “blue is the blue sky and the heavens. Green is the land, organic and growing. The blue symbolizes eternal spiritual values; the green earthly values.” This intepretation warms my heart, since I believe that one of the unique truths that some Romani clans have reserved throughout the ages is the Hermetic principle: As above, so below. As below, so above – this is represented by the unity of the spiritual and earthly values, as described in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done, in Earth as it is in Heaven” and represented by the Star of David.

The Wheel, for me, represents both the vardo (wagon) wheel and the Chakra (and a little more as you will see). Once again, a member of the World Romani Congress stated that “The wheel in the center symbolizes movement and progress.”

It is interesting that the Chakra represented in the flag is the Throat Chakra. I believe that the voice of the Romani people will create much positive change on Earth. Could be through prayer or making our voice publicly heard, amongst other ways.

The Throat Chakra also has connections with intuitive guidance, prayer, balance of appetite (carnal drive) and love (spiritual substance), lucid dreaming, singing (music), clairaudience (such as listening to God) and so on.

To me, the Wheel also represents motion and power, and the ability to move ever forward in perseverance. It also represents truth and power and the noble path to spiritual liberation, Moksha or whatever you want to call it.

The red of the flag has strong spiritual significance. Red being associated with spiritual and physical fire, protection, war, blood, sacrifice (not necessarily killing, but laying those things aside to achieve spiritual liberation), love, health, will power and so on.

I must admit that I’m quite fond of the flag. :-)

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