"Khamoro" celebrates Gypsy art and music for the 7th time|
The Khamoro World Roma Festival started in Prague once again this Tuesday.
The seventh festival of Roma culture will last one week with the highpoint
being a gala concert in Prague's Lucerna Ballroom on Saturday.
Khamoro, meaning "little sun" in the Romani language, is a
well-known international festival and a feast of Roma art and culture.
Brazilian, Indian, Polish, Ukrainian, Czech and many other Roma musicians
will play traditional Gypsy music in numerous Prague clubs.
The festival has become very popular, as was already proven at the opening
concert of the French Gypsy jazz band Shine which completely sold out.
Czechs appreciate the rhythms of Gypsy music which one of the organisers,
Michaela Dvorakova, says adds a special flavour in every country.
"You can see in their music the same routes. You can feel Roma roots
there but at the same time the music is very different. For example if you
hear a band from India and then from Finland it is something completely
different. There are plenty of talented young Roma musicians but they play
not traditional music, hip-hop, or pop and they want to perform at Khamoro
but it is not about that."
Various exhibitions play an important role at the festival, including
displays of puppets, textiles, larger than life portraits or
glass-painting, and Roma craftswomen will show how typical Gypsy scarves
or pictures are made in the Roma shop in Prague's Nerudova Street - the
only one in Central Europe.
For the first time in several years Khamoro is featuring films on Roma
themes, looking at Roma and their struggle against intolerance in Czech
society. Is there hope for change? Michaela Dvorakova
"We are not crazy we don't think that we will change the whole world
because of one festival. But we can do it slowly and with time people will
slowly change their opinions. For example, my dad, he is a good man but he
only knew Gypsies from the centre of Prague, from the tram 22 that pick
pockets all day. He came to the festival just because of me and he was
shocked. He didn't know that there are such musicians. "
The approach to issues of inclusion of Roma in society has been slowly
changing in the last few years. How this change has manifested itself in
university education will be discussed between non - Roma and Roma
university students whose numbers are rising.
A special feature of Khamoro this year is the Day of Hungarian Roma. The
programme includes presentation of films, exhibition and performances by
Bela Horvath's six-member group famous for its strings and clarinet and
Musicians will entertain passers-by at a parade on Thursday at noon in the
centre of Prague. All participants will march in traditional costumes. Each
band will introduce itself and play a few songs. There will also be Vera
Gondolan from one of the oldest musical Roma families in the former