siddi tribe

Technology and tradition- Siddi Tribe members from Gujrat, India

Siddi tribe in Gujrat is referred to as the “lost tribe of Africa” . The members of this community are the descendants of the African slaves who were bought to India as far back as the 10th century. They were bought by Arab merchants who traded with India when there was a flourishing slave market in Gujrat. The Siddis numbering less than 15,000 now live in small pockets along the coastal states of Gujarat and also in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa. Most of them live in abject poverty now. However they have maintained a great tradition of music and dance.

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Siddis of Gujarat

The first Siddis are thought to have arrived in the Indian subcontinent in 628 CE 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, however, are believed to be the descendants of slaves, sailors, servants and merchants from East Africawho arrived and became resident in the subcontinent during the 1200-1900 CE period.[16] A large influx of Siddis to the region occurred in the 17th century when Portuguese slave traders sold a number of them to local princes.[2] . …….

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.

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.[21]

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).[22] The term is believed to be derived from the Ngoma drumming and dance forms of Bantu East Africa.[22] 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.[23] 

External image

Siddi Folk Dancers, at Devaliya Naka,Sasan Gir, Gujarat, made to dress like wild people with facial paint and leaf cloths for domestic Gujarati tourist.

Read more about the Siddi’s here