You ever thought that there is an African Tribe living in India for centuries ?
If No, Then you will be Amazed to know that Siddi or Siddhis a Indo-African tribe living in India from approximately 7th century. After many research it would to be said that they are the descended from Bantu tribes of East Africa. There are many stories about their arrival in Indian Subcontinent. Many said that they came with the Portugese because they needed labour for sailing their ship which they got from the Physical strength of ancestors of these People. And they never get back to the Africa.
Population and Areas They are Settled :
They are around 25000-65000 Siddis live in our country. Maximum of them live in Karnataka. According to Census done in 2011 there are 10477 Siddis living in Karnataka. But many people predicted the number is much more around 25000 alone in Karnataka. Many of the Siddis in Karnataka were settled in Goa but some reason they left Goa and settled in coastal Uttara Kannada. Their population mainly concentrated in Yellapur, Haliyal. There are many Siddis in Gujarat, Hyderabad and some are still settled in Goa. In Gujarat they are mainly live in Somnath district and many other areas.
Recognition & Efforts to bring them mainstream:
In Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka state and Daman & Diu Union Territory they receives a status of Scheduled Tribe from the government. But they are very rarely do government jobs because. They mainly live together in a community and do Agricultural work, casual labourer & contractual worker. Very few Indians know that there is Indo-African community living and they are Indians so they are seen as foreigners outside and faces many discrimination. To amalgamate them with the mainstream Indians and to use their huge physical strength in Athletics and rank high in the medal tally of Olympics Indian government started a talent hunt for Athletics on 1987. Official of Sports Authority of India came and tested the local Siddi youngsters for Special Area Games. And many were selected of training centres and at a small scale results showed. Kamala Babu siddi , a siddi girl became national record holder for Junior Girls Pentathlon. Many talents were discovered like Philip Anthony Siddi. But the training centre ceased on 1993. Many youths went back to their villages. But the hope is not fully decimated now also many trust are working with them by providing them infrastructure and nurturing their talents for the ultimate goal Olympics.
A Dance form of Siddi People Known as Dhamaal in Gujarati
Siddis adapted many dominant customs and languages from surrounding Indian dominant culture but they preserved many of their cultures like music and dances. In dress they wear shirt and pant for men and saree for women. Before Partition Siddis were predominantly Muslim but during partition maximum of them moved to Pakistan. Today in Pakistan there are 200000-300000 siddis. In Pakistan they are called sheedis. They mainly live in Makran of Balochistan and in some part of sindhs. Today in India also majority of siddis of Gujarat are Muslims and Majority of siddis in Karnataka are Hindus. Few months ago Shantaram Siddi got elected in Karnataka legistative council. But there is a factor that unite all siddis irrespective of their faith is their tradition called Hiriyaru where they worship their ancestors. The dead ancestors are believed to be nearby in the form of spirits. They consult their ancestors for all concerns like birth, marriage, death etc. This ritual can be performed two times in a year durimg Navaratri or during Holi. Siddi’s in India get married in their community but in Pakistan many siddi’s started inter community marriage to avoid discrimination, Racism.
At last we can say that many Indians who knows slightly about this beautiful peace loving community living in our country and they should be more mainstream and united with Other Indians and should get benefit from governmental schemes like many other deprived citizens in our country.