Gypsies descend from people in northern India from about 1,000 years ago and are related to the Dom people there. Also known as Romani or Romany, these nomads migrated across the globe, but are now concentrated in Turkey and Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe (such as Spain, and southern France). The recognizable wagons, in which they live and travel, identify Gypsies readily.
What do Gypsies believe? What is a Gypsy?
Most Gypsies are Roman Catholic. Some follow Eastern Orthodoxy, Protestantism, or Islam. They call God "Del" and Satan "beng." Their heritage also is quite superstitious, and they often mix pagan thought with Christianity. For example, they often believe in charms, amulets, curses, bad luck, and ghosts.
Gypsy rituals, of which there are many, are intended to ward off spirits in an attempt to control fate. Family members will ask forgiveness for a dead person to attempt to prohibit the dead person from haunting them. The Bible says forgiveness is offered to the living by God through Christ (John 3:15–18; Acts 4:12; 1 John 1:9) and that Christians who experience Jesus' forgiveness do not have to fear condemnation (Romans 8:1; 1 John 4:18). Neither the idea of the dead coming back to haunt people nor the practice of praying for the dead is biblical. Gypsies also believe in the unbiblical notion of reincarnation, and they practice fortune telling. Being a medium and practicing sorcery are forbidden in the Bible (Leviticus 20:27, Galatians 5:20).
Gypsies have a focus on external and ceremonial cleanness. For example, Romani women are held to strict standards of purity. They are absolutely required to be virgins before marriage, and many rules dictate what a woman may or may not do during menstruation and after giving birth. The lower half of a woman's body is considered unclean due to menstruation; pregnant women are also considered unclean. After giving birth, whatever a new mother touches is to be destroyed. Other expectations and rules are similar to many legalistic religions. The Bible teaches that everyone is a sinner (Romans 3:10–11, 23) and therefore separated from the One Holy God. Only Jesus, the Savior, can remedy our stance with Him (Romans 7:24–25; 1 Corinthians 6:11). We are not saved by following strict requirements or performing some sort of ritual, but by the grace of God received through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8–10).
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