Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Siddi Followers Of Baba Gor

ya baba gor
ya baba gor
a healing chant
opening Allahs door
siddi resurgence
siddi pride siddi
hope and more
from africa zulu
lands now settled
on indian shores
protector of the
lions of gir forest
through a roar

The Last Stand Of The Siddis

born in captivity
offshoot ..dying
lions my long
lasting tribute
their fightback
their resilience
poetically i salute
paused eternity
mocks humanity
irrefutably mute
the siddis silent
funereally astute

The Siddis Condemned To A Greater Hell On Earth

made to mimic
the zulu warriors
on mumbai street
the siddis of noble
african parentage
i chanced to meet
at the holy saints
urus ..a spiritual
meet ..agony bitter
sweet ..in his eyes
i saw the moment
of his defeat the siddi
his fate could not
cheat.. a lost
soul incomplete
performing for the
dumb masses
siddi dancing feet
drumming their
ancestral pain
a moment obsolete
dreams dying
in slow retreat

What All They Make The Siddis Do..

throw money
on the floor
make them
grovel lick
it pick it up
a noble
african race
the lions
last roar
a fallen
lost illusions
lost essence
as slaves
once upon
time to our
shores ..
their doomed
destiny some more
a destiny that has shut
all future doors ,,,
guardians of the gir
forest ..in mumbai
never more ,,
picking up notes
on all fours
never seen such
an eyesore
siddis of junagadh
gujrat ..a lion is
their states

The Siddi Drummers of Junagadh

the holy
of words
the african
of the siddis
of junagadh
held in captivity
in a cage of time
these primitive
black birds
in the land
of the Ganges
their souls
will be interred

The Siddis of Junagadh

from the dense
forests of gir
they come to
mahim performing
at the urus of
makhdhoom shah
baba following a
distant dream
a forgotten race
of africa ,,enslaved
to an illusion it seems
the flesh was willing ,,
uhuru the soul screams
ya baba gor dilon ko jod
as time flows downstream

The Siddis of Junagadh

once a royal race
of africa
king of the jungle
they say
bought to india
as slaves
in the gir forests
among lions
tigers they stay
their deity
baba gor
drumming away
money thrown
on the floor
they catch
the hard
earned way
for a heritage
far away
called habshi
these african
of today
like clowns
in a circus
i shot them
to my dismay
at mahim urus
police sandal
i remember it
to this day

Siddis Are Indian Africans Treated Like Untouchables In India

Once of a warrior noble tribe of Africa bought to India as slaves by sea faring pirates merchants sold to the courts and to the nobility , this proud race has been bought to the level of beggary, and worse they perform at various Sufi Urus in Mumbai to survive and make money to go back to Junagadh in the forests where they live..

They follow their ancient customs , they have taken up Islam but even Islam has done nothing much for them sadly ..and so the are Sufi adherents their spiritual Saint is called Baba Gor..

Siddis is a photo documentary of their connection to Dargahs and a Flickr set shot by me..capturing their ancestral pain , ignominy and neglect by the government of Gujrat and India.

Siddi Performers at Mahim Urus

The Fall Of The African Heritage of The Siddis of Junagadh

The crowds deliriously want to see this as they throw notes money on the road and the Siddi acrobat leaps somersaults in the air to catch the flying note or retrieve it from the road , yes it is very tough for these migrants of African ancestry living in the dense forests of Gir Junagadh ,, but yes coming to Mumbai , they make good money during the Mahim Urus they keep this money with a person in Mahim whom they trust and once the Urus gets over they return to the forests with their pot of Gold..

I am shamed by what the Miya Mahim public makes them do , but than the Show must go on , and I have not shot the Siddis for several years now ,, all this was shot in 2009 ,,, at Mahim Urus ,,,

Doing The Kaif With The Siddis Of Junagadh at Mahim Urus

Kaif is a spiritual Sufi trance and it occurs suddenly , certain beats of the drum hypnotize you on the spot ,you go into fits , in a serious way it is these beats that cause Hazri, or an outside source enters your mind and consciousness .. for me the chant of Ali , or words to that effect push me to the brink, I lose all my senses , and sometimes have fainted on the streets during Urus time at Sandal processions ,, I have fallen on the floor with my camera , on my head , and lived to tell the tale , on one such Sandal procession a Rafaee went into a trance slashing the blade of his sword againt my stomach , tearing my tshirt but nothing happened to me than he burst out into tears and hugged me like his long lost brother ..
The Siddi beats of the drums can overpower you completely as it happened with me here I had given my camera to a friend who shot these pictures matter of fact without my knowledge ..
Now that I have become a Dam Madar Malang I have seen some strange things occurrences at Makhanpur the Holy Shrine of Zinda Shah Madar and the Dhamal where all this takes place ...

Documenting The Siddis Of Junagadh Gujrat - The Forgotten Race

I shot the Siddis for several years , mostly at the Urus of Makhdhoom Shah Baba Mahim.. and at the Urus of Haji Malang Baba..a friend of mine Altaf Siddi who works as an actor in Bollywood , wanted me shoot them in their forest surroundings and at the various Dargahs they patronize but lack of time and financial shortcomings for this venture , did not materialize.. and frankly who really cares in India ... each one is selfish to his own needs and wants ..we as bloggers , have tried to shoot pictures show you the various ethnic groups but then the New Flickr rules stopped us midway, the closure of Pro Gift at Flickr hit me too as a few friends paid for my Pro membership and I could post pictures unlimited , now no more and several appeals in this regard to Ms Marissa Mayer have not borne fruit..

So there is less documentation of races such as these or others ..I hope they make positive changes that help us all constructively ,,,Flickr is one of the best photo management sites in the world ,, and you are connected to the finest best photographers bloggers too..

The Siddis of Junagadh Gujrat The Forgotten Race

The Siddis who come to perform at the Urus of Makhdhoom Shah Baba Mahim , hardly mingle with the locals , they stay in their own cluster , speaking their dialect, and smoking beedis ..smiling grinning .. and are very emotive as acrobats dancers and drummers ..
They are hired by a few Mahim families too and they perform at the Sandal procession , keeping the crowds of Mumbai entertained by their antics, the public too gives them money mostly loose change..and little kids of Mahim love them for their stylish dance moves and drum beats ..

The Siddis of Junagadh Gujrat - The Forgotten Race

Siddis are ethnic Indo African race , the ones you see in my picture are Sufi adherents from Junagadh Gujrat , they come to Mahim , to perform as drummers and acrobatic dancers , it is a pitiable sight , seeing them leaping in the air collecting money thrown on the ground with their fish like mouths..I shot them extensively those days but than my trips to the Urus diminished as the Urus and Moharam fell at the same type .. this year I did not go to the Urus , much as I tried I was out of the city for both the Urus at Mahim.

Ever since Flickr changed its format , no unlimited uploading s I stopped shooting pictures completely ,I now let my grandchildren Nerjis 2 year old and Marziya six year old shoot the streets instead.

The Siddis are followers of Baba Gor.. and there are Siddis settled in Mumbai too ..there is a Siddi Chowk at Haji Malang too...these are pictures I shot in 2009 that I am posting as a tribute to their resilience and survival as India residents in modern changing India..

About the Siddis ,, Wikipedia

The Siddi (Urdu: شیدی ‎; Kannada: ಸಿದ್ಧಿಗಳು; Hindi, Marathi, Konkani: सिद्दी or शीदि/ಸಿದ್ಧಿ; Sindhi: شيدي; Gujarati: સીદી), also known as Siddhi, Sheedi, Habshi or Makrani, are an ethnic group inhabiting India and Pakistan. Members are descended from Bantu peoples from Southeast Africa that were brought to the Indian subcontinent as slaves by Arab and Portuguese merchants.[1] The Siddi community is currently estimated at around 20,000–55,000 individuals, with Karnataka, Gujarat and Hyderabad in India and Makran and Karachi in Pakistan as the main population centres.[2] Siddis are primarily Sufi Muslims, although some are Hindus and others Roman Catholic Christians.

There are conflicting hypotheses on the origin of the name Siddi. One theory is that the word derives from sahibi, a Arabic term of respect in North Africa, similar to the word sahib in modern India and Pakistan.[4] A second theory is that the term Siddi is derived from the title borne by the captains of the Arab vessels that first brought Siddi settlers to India. These captains were known as Sayyid.[5]
Similarly, another term for Siddis, habshi (from Al-Habsh, the Arabic term for Abyssinia), is held to be derived from the common name for the captains of the Ethiopian/Abyssinian ships that also first delivered Siddi slaves to the subcontinent.[5] The term eventually came to be applied to other Africans and not only to emancipated Siddis. In time, it came to be used to refer to their descendants as well. It is sometimes pronounced "Hafsi" and is considered an insult.[6]
Siddis are also sometimes referred to as African-Indians.[7][8][9] Siddis were referred to as Zanji by Arabs; in China, various transcriptions of this Arabic word were used, including Xinji (辛吉) and Jinzhi (津芝).[10][11][12][13]

The first Siddis are thought to have arrived in India in 628 AD at the Bharuch port. Several others followed with the first Arab Islamic invasions of the subcontinent in 712 AD.[15] The latter group are believed to have been soldiers with Muhammad bin Qasim's Arab army, and were called Zanjis.
Most Siddis are descended from Bantu peoples from Southeast Africa that were brought to the Indian subcontinent as slaves by the Portuguese.[1] While most of these migrants became Muslim and a small minority became Christian, very few became Hindu since they could not find themselves a position in the traditional Hindu caste hierarchy.[4]

Flag of the Siddis from Murud-Janjira an important vassal of the Mughal Empire.
In Western India (the modern Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra), the Siddi gained a reputation for physical strength and loyalty, and were sought out as mercenaries by local rulers, and as domestic servants and farm labour.[citation needed] Some Siddis escaped slavery to establish communities in forested areas, and some even established small Siddi principalities on Janjira Island and at Jaffrabad as early as the twelfth century. A former alternative name of Janjira was Habshan (i.e., land of the Habshis). In the Delhi Sultanate period prior to the rise of the Mughals in India, Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut was a prominent Siddi slave-turned-nobleman who was a close confidant of Razia Sultana (1205–1240 CE). Although this is disputed, he may also have been her lover.[16]
As a power centre, Siddis were sometimes allied with the Mughal Empire in its power-struggle with the Maratha Confederacy.[citation needed] However, Malik Ambar, a prominent Siddi figure in Indian history at large, is sometimes regarded as the "military guru of the Marathas", and was deeply allied with them.[17] He established the town of Khirki which later became the modern city of Aurangabad, and helped establish the Marathas as a major force in the Deccan. Later, the Marathas adapted Siddi guerrilla warfare tactics to grow their power and ultimately demolish the Mughal empire.[17] Some accounts describe the Mughal emperor Jahangir as obsessed by Ambar due to the Mughal empire's consistent failures in crushing him and his Maratha cavalry, describing him derogatorily as "the black faced" and "the ill-starred" in the royal chronicles and even having a painting commissioned that showed Jahangir killing Ambar, a fantasy which was never realised in reality.[18]

Siddis of Gujarat[edit]

Siddi Folk Dancers, at Devaliya Naka, Sasan Gir, Gujarat.
Supposedly presented as slaves by the Portuguese to the local Prince, Nawab of Junagadh, the Siddis also live around Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, the last refuge in the world of the almost extinct Asiatic Lions, in Junagadh a district of the state of Gujarat, India.[19]
On the way to Deva-dungar is the quaint village of Sirvan, inhabited entirely by Siddis, a tribe of African people. They were brought 300 years ago from Africa, by the Portuguese for the Nawab of Junagadh. Today, they follow very few of their original customs, with a few exceptions like the traditional Dhamal dance.[20]
Although Gujarati Siddis have adopted the language and many customs of their surrounding populations, some African traditions have been preserved. These include the Goma music and dance form, which is sometimes called Dhamaal (Gujarati: ધમાલ, fun).[21] The term is believed to be derived from the Ngoma drumming and dance forms of Bantu East Africa.[21] The Goma also has a spiritual significance and, at the climax of the dance, some dancers are believed to be vehicles for the presence of Siddi saints of the past.[22]

Siddis of Karnataka[edit]

Siddi Girl from Yellapur District, Karnataka, India.
Main article: Siddis of Karnataka
The Siddis of Karnataka (Kannada: ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಸಿದ್ಧಿಗಳು) (also spelled Siddhis) are an ethnic group of mainly Bantu descent that has made Karnataka their home for the last 400 years.[1] There is a 50,000 strong Siddhi population across India, of which more than a third live in Karnataka. In Karnataka, they are concentrated around Yellapur, Haliyal, Ankola, Joida, Mundgod and Sirsi taluks of Uttara Kannada and in Khanapur of Belgaum and Kalghatgi of Dharwad district. Many members of the Siddis community of Karnataka had migrated to Pakistan after independence and have settled in Karachi, Sindh. The majority of the Siddhis in Karnataka are descendants of Siddhi slaves who were brought from East Africa (mostly Mozambique) and Ethiopia to Goa by the Portuguese, British and the Arabs between the 16th and 19th centuries. During the Goan Inquisition, some of these slaves were freed and some escaped into the forests of the neighbouring Karnataka state. It has been reported that these Siddis believe that Barack Obama shares their genepool and that they wanted to gift a bottle of honey to him on his visit to India in 2010.[23]
Siddis of Hyderabad, India[edit]
In the 18th century, a Siddi community was established in Hyderabad State by the Arab Siddi diaspora, who would frequently serve as cavalry guards of the Asif Jahi Nizam's irregular army. The Asif Jahi Nizams patronised them with rewards and the traditional Marfa music gained popularity and would be performed during official celebrations and ceremonies.[24][25][26] The Siddis of Hyderabad have traditionally resided in the A.C. Guards (African Cavalry Guards) area near Masjid Rahmania, known locally as Siddi Risala.
Sheedis of Pakistan[edit]

In Pakistan, locals of Black African descent are called "Makrani", or "Sheedi". They live primarily along the Makran Coast in Balochistan, and lower Sindh. In the city of Karachi, the main Sheedi centre is the area of Lyari and other nearby coastal areas.[27] Technically, the Sheedi are a brotherhood or community distinct from the other Afro-Pakistanis. The Sheedis are divided into four clans, or houses: Kharadar Makan, Hyderabad Makan, Lassi Makan and Belaro Makan.[28] The sufi saint Pir Mangho is regarded by many as the patron saint of the Sheedis, and the annual Sheedi Mela festival, is the key event in the Sheedi community's cultural calendar.[28] Some glimpses of the rituals at Sidi/Sheedi Festival 2010 include visit to sacred alligators at Mangho pir, playing music and dance.[29] Clearly, the instrument, songs and dance appear to be derived from Africa.[30][31]
Linguistically, Makranis speak Balochi and Sindhi, as well as a dialect of Urdu referred to as Makrani. In Sindh, the Sheedis have traditionally intermarried only with people such as the Mallahs (fisherpeople), Khaskeli (laborers), Khatri (dyeing caste) and Kori (clothmakers).
Famous Sheedis include the historic Sindhi army leader Hoshu Sheedi[32] and Urdu poet Noon Meem Danish.[33][34] Sheedis are also well known for their excellence in sports, especially in football and boxing. The musical anthem of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, "Bija Teer", is a Balochi song in the musical style of the Sheedis with Black African style rhythm and drums.[35] Younis Jani is a popular Sheedi singer famous for singing an Urdu version of the reggaeton song "Papi chulo... (te traigo el mmmm...)."[36]
Siddis or Sheedis in lower Sindh[edit]

Sawan Qambrani, resident of village Syed Matto Shah, Tehsil Bulri Shah Karim, District Tando Muhammad Khan, Sindh
Sheedis are largely populated in different towns and villages in lower Sindh. They are very active in cultural activities and organise annual festivals, like, Habash Festival, with the support of several community organisations. In the local culture, when there is a dance it is not performed by some selected few and watched idly by others but it is participated by all the people present there, ending difference between the performers and the audience.[37]
Sheedis in Sindh also proudly call themselves the Qambranis, Urdu: قمبرانی ‎; Sindhi: قمبراڻي, in reverence to Qambar, the freed slave of the Islamic caliph Ali.[citation needed]

Recent advances in genetic analyses have helped shed some light on the ethnogenesis of the Siddi. Genetic genealogy, although a novel tool that uses the genes of modern populations to trace their ethnic and geographic origins, has also helped clarify the possible background of the modern Siddi.
Y DNA[edit]
A Y-chromosome study by Shah et al. (2011) tested Siddi individuals in India for paternal lineages. The authors observed the E1b1a haplogroup, which is frequent amongst Bantu peoples, in about 42% and 34% of Siddis from Karnataka and Gujarat, respectively. Around 14% of Siddis from Karnataka and 35% of Siddis from Gujarat also belonged to the Sub-Saharan B haplogroup. The remaining 30% of Siddi had Indian or Near Eastern-associated clades, including haplogroups H, L, J and P.[1]
Thangaraj (2009) observed similar, mainly Bantu-linked paternal affinities amongst the Siddi.[38]
According to an mtDNA study by Shah et al. (2011), the maternal ancestry of the Siddi consists of a mixture of Sub-Saharan and Indian haplogroups, reflecting substantial female gene flow from neighbouring Indian populations. About 53% of the Siddis from Gujarat and 24% of the Siddis from Karnataka belonged to various Sub-Saharan macro-haplogroup L sub-clades. The latter mainly consisted of L0 and L2a sublineages associated with Bantu women. The remainder possessed Indian-specific subclades of the Eurasian haplogroups M and N, which points to recent admixture with autochthonous Indian groups.[1]
Autosomal DNA[edit]
Narang et al. (2011) examined the autosomal DNA of Siddis in India. According to the researchers, about 58% of the Siddis' ancestry is derived from Bantu peoples. The remainder is associated with local Indo-European-speaking North and Northwest Indian populations, due to recent admixture events.[39]
Similarly, Shah et al. (2011) observed that Siddis in Gujarat derive 66.90%–70.50% of their ancestry from Bantu forebears, while the Siddis in Karnataka possess 64.80%–74.40% such Southeast African ancestry. The remaining autosomal DNA components in the studied Siddi were mainly associated with local South Asian populations. According to the authors, gene flow between the Siddis' Bantu ancestors and local Indian populations was also largely unidirectional. They estimate this admixture episode's time of occurrence at within the past 200 years or eight generations.[1]
However, Guha et al. (2012) observed few genetic differences between the Makrani of Pakistan and neighboring populations. According to the authors, the genome-wide ancestry of the Makrani was essentially the same as that of the adjacent Indo-European speaking Balochi and Dravidian-speaking Brahui.[