RAJPOT proposes to be the first Gypsy Traveller led inter-cultural peace centre of its kind for indigenous and predominantly oral cultures in Scotland and possibly even the world. In this respect, it must be regarded as an unprecedented and ground-breaking concept.
RAJPOT was established as a voluntary organisation by individuals from varying backgrounds, including Scottish Gypsy Travellers, with a view to establishing an inter-cultural arts centre that would enable people from indigenous and seldom heard cultural communities, often oppressed communities, to give voice to their experiences and allow their stories to resonate across cultural boundaries, deploying a multi-art format: visual arts, craft-making, performance art (drama, story-telling, music, poetry recital, etc.) to provide a platform for the celebration of historically oppressed indigenous groups, which supports their empowerment and seeks to generate a means of self-sustainability in the long term.
The name ‘RAJPOT’ is an acronym of ‘Refuge for Allies of Justice and Persons from Oppressed Tribes’. Adoption of the word “rajpot” derives from the Scottish Gypsy Traveller language of Cant and usually refers to someone considered to be “mad”. However, to stave off any criticism that it refers to Gypsy Travellers as “somehow deranged individuals”, it should be noted that the person responsible for devising the concept was considered to be “crazy” by his Gypsy Traveller peers, since it was asserted that the idea would not attract any support – financial or otherwise.
Therefore, the creator embraced this humorous view of himself in designing the plans for the centre, where a large pot, typically used by Gypsy Travellers, occupies pride of place on an outside fire at the heart of the design; the symbolic value should be apparent to any Gypsy Traveller, many of whom preferred historically to cook in a large pot on an open fire, hence incorporation of the word “pot”. Further, the term “rajpot” implies a wordplay on the word “Rajput”, a term of reference for an exalted caste in India, thought to be the progenitors of European Gypsy Travellers. Thus, the name of the centre actually embodies the ultimate respect and deference toward ancestral forebears.