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Gibb Sahib Indian Gypsy singing (10) RE: Indian Gypsy singing 04 Jun 20

These aren't "Gypsy" singers. They are singers of qawwali, the classical North Indian form of singing Sufi poetry. Singers ("qawwal") are attached to shrines of Sufi saints. The South Asian Sufi devotional ethos is "ecstasy" -- getting close to Allah through losing yourself in passion. The women performing are the duo "Nooran Sisters" from Jalandhar in Punjab state of India. The language is Punjabi. The guy in wine colored shirt that they keep focusing on is star (since early 1980s) Punjabi pop star Gurdas Mann.

I suppose some Spanish singer just thought "Gitanos" were the closest thing to their experience and labelled it in the facebook post (?). What might be throwing things off is that historically qawwali singers have been men only. Yet the cultural atmosphere of Sufism is very catholic, and it's not surprising an "exception" is made for women, especially if they are chiefly "artists" and not engaged as functionaries at shrines. As a case in point, Gurdas Mann (showing his appreciation throughout) is a Sikh rather than a Muslim.

The mind can run wild connecting North Indian peoples to Rom people of Europe, yes the historical connection is there. But it is not made with such specificity to some group of "Gypsies" in India and, even when people hazard to do that, they don't connect these qawwals.

I work with people in Punjab that have an actual history as an itinerant tribe and whom the colonial British referred to as "gypsies" colloquially, but they are different. These people here are the established (most mainstream) stock of musicians from which classical North Indian music comes. No one would call them gypsies. One would guess their "caste" is "Mirasi."

In the '70s and '80s people's minds ran hog wild connecting European Rom stuff and Northwestern Indian stuff, very speculatory, since we're talking about 1000 years of cultural change. The governor of Punjab state sent soil (dirt) from Punjab to some Rom in Europe. Indira Gandhi had Rom come perform in India. A conference was held by the International Romany Union (sp?) in England around 1980 and they sent a troupe of bhangra dancers -- dancing in forms made up after the 1950s -- and made a big show as if it was an "ancient" dance that connected the Gypsy family of the world, ha. I guess all brown people look alike!
In 2000 I met Dr. WR Rishi, who was editor of a "ROMA" magazine for many years -- it was the mouthpiece for a lot of the dilettante "theories." Included in its pages were several articles about the "flamenco connections" and whatever. Rishi himself was a linguistics professor in Chandigarh. He put together several dictionaries comparing Punjabi language and Romanes (Rom language). Of course, the languages ARE related; linguistics is the discipline that had been most engaged in sketching migrations of Rom people. But North Indian vernaculars of 1000 AD being the root of Rom language is limited to what it can say about ethnicity and culture as pertaining to the present. Anyway, this Rishi guy claimed to have gone to England and conversed with some Rom in Punjabi and they totally understood each other... which is nonsense... but a fun story. His whole schtick was that other dilettante writers connected European Rom to peoples in Rajasthan, yet he was certain their ancestors were Punjabi! 1000 years ago... Punjabi, Rajasthani... no substantive difference.

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