Romany ensembles play music of their ancestors

STRAZNICE, South Moravia, Aug 21, 2000 -- (CTK) About 1,600 musicians from 80 Romany ensembles have performed music of their ancestors at a two-day international Romany festival Terni Straznice (Young Straznice) 2000 which ended today.

The program was based on the performance of children's groups, although from Saturday evening until this morning adult Czech and Slovak singers and musicians performed in a local park, Jana Horvathova from the Brno-based Museum of Romany culture told CTK.

Original Romany music handed down from generation to generation prevailed in all the performances, she said.

The festival, which was the greatest show of the current Romany culture, opened on Saturday morning with hoisting of the Romany banner. "It was a public premiere of our flag and it was for the first time that it was flying over our heads during the whole period of the festival. Blue color on the flag symbolizes a free sky, green color symbolizes grass on which our ancestors walked and a red wheel with spokes in the middle of the flat reminds of our nomadic life and our journey from India to Europe and other places," Jan Rac, the chairman of the Association of Romany Children and Youth which organized the festival, said.

The festival opened with the Romany anthem which was sung by the Ternipen (Young) group from the east Slovak town of Snina. "The anthem was created from an original Romany song in 1971 by Yugoslav Jarko Jovanovic," Horvathova said.

The exhibition "World through the eyes of Romany" opened at Straznice castle, as part of the festival. Romany musical instruments, books, and items showing Romany habits and the life of Romany communities were on display. Visitors were also served traditional Romany food.

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