International Romani Day in Chudovo


This year celebrations of International Romani Day were organized in Chudovo, Novgorod region, by Suleyman Yanopol, a local volunteer and activist, who now works as an assistant teacher for the first grades of a school in a local Roma encampment. Suleyman has prepared an event with the participation of traditional Roma dancers (local Roma youths), a guitar player and singer of Roma songs Ilya. Besides that smaller Roma kids also performed a traditional Russian fairy tale “Turnip”.


Suleyman has managed to overcome various obstacles as he organized the event. First the local Chudovo community centre allowed to hold the event at its premises, but later, almost on the eve of the day, has withdrawn its agreement. Local Roma mothers failed to get all the necessary costumes and props for the play in time. Fortunately the premises for the event were finally provided by the director of a local boarding school, where many Roma pupils study. Kids and teachers from the boarding school and the nearby Syabrenitsy school were among the audience. As if by magic, the boarding school’s hall managed to hold as much as 80 people – kids and adults!


As the performance started, Suleyman and the staff of ADC “Memorial” served as the masters of ceremony, telling the story of the Romani people and the International Romani Day. The first part of the program – Roma male dance – was a great success. Then followed the quiz about Roma and Russian traditions: kids and adults were all eager to give right answers. Next part of the event was performance by a dancing group, which was a little late to arrive, but entered the hall with a huge Romani flag. Roma girls were dancing and the audience was charmed.


When it was time to perform the “Turnip” fairy tale, Roma children were doing this with great exaltation. There was no need to translate the play into Russian, because obviously everybody was able to follow the plot.


The event ended with singing Roma songs – as the event was drawing to a close Ilya organized an impromptu choir of both the performers and the audience. Administration of the boarding school thanked the Roma performers and the children started asking when preparations for the next International Romani Day will start.


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