Romani in Pakistan

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge
* From latest Pakistan census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.

Introduction / History

The Middle East Romani are made up of two groups: the Ghorbati and the Nawari. Both groups speak a dialect of Romany, which is related to the North Indo-Aryan language of India. Their dialect, Domari, contains many Arabic words.

Romani call themselves Rom, which in their language means "men." Rom is derived from the Indian word Dom, meaning "a man of low caste who gains his livelihood by singing and dancing." The Ghorbati are named from the Arabic word, gurbet, which means "stranger." In the Arab world, Romani are called Nauar, hence the Nawari Romani.

Romani originated in India where they worked as musicians, entertainers, and metal workers. There they were discriminated against and excluded from the temples. Later, they were sent to Persia as minstrels. From there they were separated into two groups. One traveled northward and became the Romany-speaking European Romani. The other traveled southward and became known as the Domari, or Middle Eastern Romani.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Dark skin and dark eyes are typical of most Romani. Their almost mystical lifestyle has made them the objects of curiosity, distrust, and even fear, from their beginnings until now.

The Middle East Romani live scattered throughout Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Turkey. Most of them are nomads, wandering from region to region, and they depend on the people for their livelihood. It is common for Romani to have two or more specialized occupations. This makes it easier for them to adapt to a changing society's needs. When a region's people no longer need a Romani's particular skill, they move on to one that will.

When a Romani cannot adapt or change his occupation, he will settle down. Today, therefore, there are some Romani villages and communities in the Middle East. Some even live in the cities.

Nomadic Romani either travel in caravans of wagons or carts, or they ride on camels, donkeys, or horses. The settled Romani usually live in houses that are typical to those of the region in which they settle.

Romani have long been known for their abilities as musicians, singers, and dancers. They also hold a wide variety of other occupations. The men are skilled makers of sieves, drums, bird cages, and reed mats. They also entertain with animals, work as tinkers, or play music. The women peddle such things as cloth, shoes, kitchen utensils, or products made by the men. Many also sing and dance. Both men and women shear sheep, spin wool, and tell fortunes. Sadly, some of the women and children are forced to beg or even steal food as a means of survival.

Romani marriages usually take place between couples in their teens. Though polygyny (having more than one wife) is sometimes practiced, it is rare. The family unit is highly valued because each member is depended on for his financial contribution.

Typically, Romani have very unclean living habits due to their nomadic lifestyle. Sanitation and good hygiene are rarely practiced. Children are often poorly cared for; their hair hangs loosely and shoes are seldom worn. Their wagons or carts are used as living units and shops as well as for transportation, which contributes to their unsanitary lifestyle.

Values such as justice, fidelity, and morality are very significant in Romani society. Such things as courtesy and friendliness are also very important. The control of deviants is strictly enforced. If a Romani becomes impure by some immoral or unlawful act, he is considered an outcast. Also, sexual purity is considered a must for young girls. In fact, it must be proven before marriage that the girl has never before been with a man. This strict social code is related to their old Hindu caste system which they have kept since their origin.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Middle East Romani are almost entirely Muslim and they follow the practices and beliefs of the Islamic faith. However, there are a few who have held on to the traditional beliefs of the Romani. For example, they believe that ghosts, lizards, and snakes are capable of harming humans. They also believe that men have the power to curse others by giving them the "evil eye," and that some people have the power to heal the sick.

What Are Their Needs?

The unsanitary lifestyle of the Middle East Romani has created many physical needs. The quality of health care, nutrition, housing, and education is poor. Adequate educational opportunities must be provided in order to raise their standard of living.

Spiritually, the Islamic religion is very difficult to influence. Their nomadic lifestyle has made it very difficult for missionaries to reach them. Also, their reputation as beggars and thieves has made them undesirable candidates for outreach.

Most Romani have no Christian resources available to them. Christian workers are needed to teach them how to live lives pleasing to God.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Romani, Vlax in Pakistan.

* Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to share Christ with the Romani.
* Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Romani Christians.
* Pray that those Romani who know Christ will be bold witnesses of the Gospel to their own people.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of Romani towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that God will raise up intercessors who will stand in the gap for them.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Middle East Romani.

Profile Source:   Bethany World Prayer Center  

People Name General Romani, Vlax
People Name in Country Romani, Vlax
Natural Name Romani
Population this Country 23,000
Population all Countries 1,135,000
Total Countries 30
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
Alternate Names Arhagar; Arhagar Gypsy; Baltic Gypsy; Cale; Cingane; Colombian Gypsy; Gitano; Gurbeti; Gypsy; Kalderash; Kalderash Gypsy; Lovari; Lovari Gypsy; Lovari Rom Gypsy; Lowara; Norwegian Gypsy; Rom; Romani; Romani, Romanian; Romanian; Romanichal Gypsy; Romungre; Rroma Gypsy; Rusurja; Turkish Gypsy; Vlach; Vlach Gypsy; Vlach Romany Gypsy; Vlax Rom Gypsy; Xoraxai; Zigenare
People ID 14567
ROP3 Code 108394
Country Pakistan
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 5  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Specialized Website South Asia Peoples
Country Pakistan
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank 5  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Language Romani, Vlax (23,000 speakers)
Language Code rmy   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Romani, Vlax (23,000 speakers)
Language Code rmy   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Romani, Vlax

Primary Language:  Romani, Vlax

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1930-1991)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1984-1995)
Bible-Complete Yes  (2008)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (Global Recordings Network)
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (Faith Comes By Hearing)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Romani, Vlax
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
General Gospel resources links (Scripture Earth)
Mobile App Download audio Bible app as APK file from Faith Comes By Hearing
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Kalderash New Testament and Psalms 2004
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Kalderash Romani for Romania
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Romané New Testament
Text / Printed Matter Download scripture in this language
Text / Printed Matter World Missionary Press Booklets
Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religion Percent *
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
* From latest Pakistan census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Photo Source Anonymous 
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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