Indians are proud of being Indian, what does that mean? That means that they are proud of everything the country offers, everything from the geography to the people and the heritage. It is an amalgamation of so any cultures, traditions and has a unique quality of embracing everyone. That is why it is a combination of so many lifestyles, which are from within the country geographies and also from people who migrated to India and never went back. One such community which most of you are not aware of is the – Siddi Tribes.
It is believed that the tribe came to India as early as 628 AD at Bharuch port, and during the Arab Islamic invasion in 712 AD. Later most of them were brought to India as slaves by the Portuguese. They basically have origin from South African “Bantu” tribes. As slaves they were shifted to all the corners of the country and accordingly termed also. The slaves sold by Arab traders were called – “Habshis”; sold to Sri Lanka were called “Kaffirs” and those who were sold in Pakistan were called “Sheedis”. Slaves presented by the Portuguese to the Prince of Junagadh in Gujarat are called the – “Siddis”.
There is another story which goes in way that when the Nawab of Junagadh visited Africa he fell in love with an African woman and when she moved to Gujarat she brought around hundred slaves who belonged to the current tribe of Siddis.
A small village called “Jambur”, approximately one hundred kilometres from Junagadh today holds this tribe. The way they speak Gujarati will confuse you on their origin, they earn their livelihood from Gujarat and they love India. The village is surrounded by the Gir forest which is a famous tourist destination. The tribals, during the day are occupied in small time jobs but during the night they are engaged in tourist activities where they become – guides or dance performers.
If you happen to visit Gir, you must not miss the dance performance of the Siddi tribe. The famous dancers paint their faces with shades of red, green and blue with designs which are traditionally African. They have head gear in the form of straw caps and wear dark shade of orange tiger print skirts. They dance to African beats and breathe fire. They are famous for this dance form from Africa and have even featured in a “Gujarat Tourism Video”. They are proud that they Indian Government and the people have embraced them as their own countrymen.
Though they have totally accepted themselves as Indians but they still preserve their African origin. They have a tradition of marrying within the community and they are very strict on it. By virtue of this tradition they seem to have preserved their features as well which are very African. Today there are estimated to have a population of around 50,000 to 60,000 spread across the states of Gujarat, Karnataka, and Hyderabad in India.
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