Khamoro Festival parades through city centre

Khamoro 2002

The World Roma festival Khamoro 2002 is coming to an end. With concerts, workshops and seminars, this week-long celebration of Roma culture and traditions has brought Czech society a step closer to one of its largest minority groups.

Khamoro, which means 'sun' in the Romany language, certainly lived up to its name as it lit up the streets of Prague, and turned the city centre into one huge party on Thursday with a vibrant procession through the Old Town and Wenceslas Square. Roma musicians and dancers dressed in colourful costumes and played music from all over the world, spreading joy and laughter to stunned passers-by:

"My name is Rita, I come from Rome and the name of my group is Acquaragia Drom. The gypsies in the South of Italy play the same music as Italian folk musicians. They play 'tamburiata' - and erotic dance with the tambourine."

Another highlight of the festival was the Portuguese band Ciganos d'Ouro. And according to guitarist Pedro Joia, one thing that was quite noticeable at the festival was the difference between the Roma community in Eastern Europe and that of Mediterranean and Latin American countries.

"When we met Gypsies from Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, we felt so different in our aspects or our way of life. I don't know why. We have the sun all year round and live in open air, a great part of the year we have fiestas in 'la calle' - in the street. Perhaps that's why."

Translated as 'the nice gypsies', Ciganos d'Ouro went out of their way to live up to their name and sang a song just for our Radio Prague listeners.