Spirituality is surely no empty phrase

The publication of the Gypsy Bible was an event of great significance for the Romany community in Belarus last year
The publication of the Gypsy Bible was an event of great significance for the Romany community in Belarus last year, notes Valdemar Kalinin, who worked upon it for 25 years. Now in London, he is teaching English, conducting research, and translating the edition into Belarusian.

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Most of the Romany community is deeply religious, with over 80 percent being practising Orthodox Catholics, as Oleg Kozlovsky, the Chairman of the Belarusian Gypsy diaspora, notes. He explains, “The green colour on our flag signifies unification with the earth that feeds us, while blue represents spiritual life, which helps us to overcome all difficulties.”

The Bible in their native language is to be distributed across all churches sited in regions home to Romany communities: a move yet to be taken in Russia, Ukraine or the Baltic countries. The International Day of Gypsy People was first marked on April 8th, 1971: celebrated in Belarus by about 60,000 people. Known for preserving their customs and traditions with care, the community has more than ten artistic collectives in Belarus: one such is the Gypsy Dzhana Roma group, which has won various competitions.

“Gypsy people have no need of borders; no nation or city ‘holds’ us; we seek only peace. Belarus’ kind and tolerant people offer a place where representatives of various nationalities may feel comfortable,” comments Mr. Kozlovsky, speaking on behalf of the diaspora.

By Natalia Stepankova
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