WHO ARE BANJARAS?
The Banjaras are the largest and historic formed group in India and also known as Lambadi or Lambani. The Banjara people are a people who speak lambadi or Lambani. All gypsy languages are linked linguistically, stemming from ancient Sanskrit and belonging to the North Indo-Aryan language family. Lambadi is the heart language of the Banjara, but it has no written script. The Banjara speak a second language of the state they live in and adopt that script. They are listed under 53 different names. Historically, these are the root Gypsies of earth. During the British colonial rule, these gypsy nomads of India were given the name Banjara, but they call themselves Ghor. The Banjaras are a colourful, versatile and one of the largest people groups of India, inhabiting most of the districts of Andhra Pradesh. The Banjara are a sturdy, ambitious people and have a light complexion. The Banjara were historically nomadic, keeping cattle, trading salt and transporting goods. Most of these people now have settled down to farming and various types of wage labour. Their habits of living in isolated groups away from other, which was a characteristic of their nomadic days, still persist. Their unique dress, heritage, customs and language distinguish them from the majority population, and they maintain a separate lifestyle. The banjara gypsies love storytelling, music, songs and dance. Men play drums and women dance in a circle chanting to the rhythmic beat. The Banjara are now experiencing rapid changes, and their traditional customs, practices and institutions are undergoing far-reaching transformations. They are now settled as agricultural labourers. With forty million Banjara in India and thirteen million outside India, there may be fifty-five million Banjara/gypsies live in the world. The Banjaras are located throughout much of south central India. An estimated five million live in Andhra Pradesh. The rest live in the states of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. There are approximately 40 million Banjaras in India, but only 0.1% of them have been reached by the gospel and others have not even heard the name of Jesus. The Banjara are primarily Hindu-Animists with their own gods and goddesses, festivals, and animistic worship practices. They offer goat sacrifices and are also bound by superstitions, fears and witchcraft. Some have been reluctant to become Christians, viewing conversion as a break with their tribe. They also fear that their gods may bring down calamity on their community. And only 12-15% of Banjara people are literate