UK: Residents in Dorset Band Together to Celebrate Romani Heritage
This past Saturday 10 June, the South West Dorset Multicultural Network and Kushti Bok hosted a celebration of Romani people and other Travellers in the UK for Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month at Dorchester’s Borough Gardens. Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month has been taking place in the UK since June 2001 and honors the Roma and other Travellers.
The community of Dorset has developed its own tradition of annually celebrating these cultures, sponsored this year by the Multicultural Network and by Kushti Bok, a Dorset-based charity who describe themselves as pursuing diversity and equity for "traditionally nomadic people". According to the Borough of Poole, “Most people in Dorset know very little about Gypsies and Travellers.”
The annual celebration helps the residents of Dorset “see something a bit more real than the rumours and nonsense they see on the television” about Romani people, according to the Dorset Echo newspaper. It is not uncommon for Roma and Travellers to keep their way of life hidden from outsiders due to the persecution and discrimination they have faced throughout history.
This celebration provides an open space to learn about Romani life. “The population in Dorset includes a significant number of Gypsies and Travellers," the Borough of Poole's website reports.
"Many have long historical links with this part of the country and there is quite a significant settled community living in housing locally,” says the Borough of Poole. Visitors had the opportunity to interact with Romani people as well as with Irish and Scottish Travellers.
Culture was shared via singing, cooking, and various crafts. Additionally, the Dorset Echo reported that “The central attraction of the day was a classic Gypsy ‘Vardo’ wagon and the opportunity to taste some traditional cooking, like the famed bacon pudding.”
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