The first World Romani Congress on 8 April, 1971 at Orpington - Chelsfield, near London, UK

The International Day of the Roma

We commemorate the International Day of the Roma every year on 8 April.

The International Day of the Roma is one of few holidays of the Romanies which became an international event in the 1990'. It is a day which is focused on celebrating the Romany culture and extending awareness on Romany problems.

In spite of all the efforts to promote it, the holiday is not very well known by the majority population but not even by the ordinary Romanies. This day is rather known by people of the civic sector and they are just these people who try to organize celebrations in various towns.

The International Day of the Roma was set up in 1990 in Warsaw where the fourth congress of the International Romani Union (IRU) was held. It is to commemorate the day when the international cooperation of the Romanies was officially sealed and when the Romani movement gained an international political and social dimensions.

The participants of celebrations recall on this day their common origin, language, culture, their unification and cooperation, and in particular "Romipen" – preservation of their identity.
The International Day of the Roma is celebrated in honour of the first international meeting of Romani representatives which was held just on 8 April 1971 near London.

Its initiators were in particular Grattan Puxon and Donald Kenrick from England, the Yugoslavian Romanies were represented by Jarko Jovanovic, and French Romanies, so-called Manusha, were represented by Matéo Maximoff. Then Czechoslovak Socialist Republic was represented by members of the Union of Roma-Gypsies.

The Romani Flag

The Romani flag consists of two lengthwise strips; the lower green strip symbolizes the unity of Romanies with the nature and the upper blue strip symbolizes their unity with the heavens, in other words with the spiritual world, philosophy and such like. The wheel in the centre of the flag symbolizes the migratory heritage of Romanies and has its roots in the Indian red chakra wheel. It had originally sixteen spokes and its red colour corresponds to the first chakra – the element of the Earth.

The Romani Anthem

The lyrics of the international Romani anthem "Gelem Gelem" were written by a Romany musician and politician Zarko Jovanovic from Beograd who has been living for years in Paris. The lyrics were set to a traditional Romany melody. The interesting thing is that Czech and Slovak Romanies have their own anthem "Čhajori Romani" which was composed in the concentration camp Auschwitz. The international anthem was adopted as late as in 1990'.