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ROMANY / ROMA

Both terms, gypsy and romany (roma), are used as synonyms, as they are both used by the community itself for self-identification. Members of the Roma community adhere to different religions, though retaining their ethnic identity by remaining close together, having left traces on many ethnic traditions. As a whole they live in small closed communities, which rely on human reproduction, folklore, traditions and minimizing their integration into Bulgarian society. There are many subgroups, which have developed owing to different factors: religion (Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Protestant Christianity, Judaism), mother tongue (Romany dialects, Turkish, Bulgarian, Vlach dialects), traditional trades and crafts, time of settlement and way of life. The main groups of gypsies in Bulgaria are the Yerlii (Horahane Roma - Muslims, Dasikane Roma - Christians), Kardarashi (Lovari, Kelderari - tin-platers) and Rudari (Lingurari - Kopanari, Ursari - musicians with dancing bears).
The belief in magic, fatalism, and that God and Fate define a person's life are widespread in the Roma community in Bulgaria. Many gypsies have adopted the folklore of other ethnic groups, with which they have been in contact, and adapted it to suit their needs. They have a set of legends which explain their differences from other people - why they are poor, why they have no country of their own and no alphabet, why they are divided and so on. God's will, or that of a saint, an unfair decision of a ruler, an unfair social start are many of the supposed reasons for their differences. The gypsies honour two Christian saints especially, Saint Basil and Saint George, as well as the Holy Virgin Mary.

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