Edited by Azizi Powell
This post provides information about the Siddi people of India and showcases five videos of Siddi Dhama music and dance.
The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube.
This post is part of an ongoing series about the word "ngoma" in African cultures.
Also, click http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2016/01/african-pakistani-sheedi-music-dance.html for a closely related pancocojams post on Sheedi (African Pakistani) music and dance.
INFORMATION ABOUT SIDDI PEOPLE OF INDIA
"The Siddi (pronounced [sɪd̪d̪iː]), 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. Some were merchants, sailors, indentured servants and mercenaries. 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. Siddis are primarily Sufi Muslims, although some are Hindus and others Roman Catholic Christians.
...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. The latter group are believed to have been soldiers with Muhammad bin Qasim's Arab army, and were called Zanjis.
Siddis are descended from Bantu peoples from Southeast Africa that were brought to the Indian subcontinent as slaves by the Portuguese. 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.
Siddis of Gujarat
Some Siddis escaped slavery to establish communities in forested areas, and some even established the small Siddi principalities of Janjira State on Janjira Island and Jafarabad State in Kathiawar 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.
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. 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....
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.
...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). The term is believed to be derived from the Ngoma drumming and dance forms of Bantu East Africa. 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.
"Goma" music comes from the Kiswahili word "ngoma" which means a drum or drums and also means any dance occasion where traditional drums are principally used....
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. There is a 50,000 strong Siddhi population across India, of which more than a third live in Karnataka….
Siddis of Hyderabad, India
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. The Siddis of Hyderabad have traditionally resided in the A.C. Guards (African Cavalry Guards) area near Masjid Rahmania, known locally as Siddi Risala.
This Wikipedia page also included information about the Sheedis of Pakistan. That information will be featured in an upcoming pancocojams post about that population.
India's African Past by Fatima Chowdhury
"The Sidi community lives mostly in Gujarat (in western India), with smaller populations settled in the neighboring state of Maharashtra and the southern states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. There is no accurate census on the number of Sidis in India. According to various publications, there are no more than 20,000 in any one state. Although most Sidis live in villages, many are urban dwellers residing in towns and cities. Some also live in tribal surroundings and villages.
Descendants of African slaves and seamen, the ancestors of the Sidis came to India through sea trade with East Africa and the Gulf around the 12th century. They came from different areas such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and later Zanzibar. The Sidis of Gujarat are Muslims with a strong Sufi tradition. They have to some extent assimilated into the local culture through their dress, food and language, though their dark skin and African features are distinctive. Some have even married outside of their community. But, by and large, they remain marginalized, leading a life of relative obscurity and poverty. In some districts, the government has accorded them the Scheduled Tribe status.
Their history lost in time, the Sidis' only link to their past is their devotional music and dance dedicated to Gori Pir, a Sufi saint from Africa. Known as Hazrat Mubarak Nobi, he is said to have come from Nubia to India from Africa via Mecca, and stopped in Basra (in Iraq) to study with Rifai Sufis. He has shrines throughout Gujarat, in the places stopped at before settling in Bharuch district. Here he set up an agate workshop and became part of the Indian Ocean trade, especially in tasbihs (Islamic prayer beads) for hajis (pilgrims)....
INFORMATION ABOUT SIDDI DHAMA MUSIC
"African Indian traditions - Sidi dhamal
Various Artists: ARCE00012
Year Released 2003
Record Label A.R.C.E.
Source: Archive Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology
Copyright: Archives and Research Centre for Ethnomusicology
Genre(s): India; World
Culture Group(s): Sidi
Subject(s): Khari Damal (Devotional Dance)
Credits: Mantravadi Umashankar - Collector; Recorder
These four short devotional songs are usually sung and drummed during the ecstatic dance known as damal, but may also be sung seated in the shrines and for programs or recording. The texts address many aspects of nature and spirituality and may build to a feverish pitch of devotional excitement.
Damal can refer to firewalking as well as to wild and tumultuous merriment, both of which the Sidis practice during the annual urs to their black Sufi saint, Gori Pir. Ths Sidis also call it goma, a Bantu word for drum/dance widely used in Africa (Swahili ngoma) or zikr (recollection), as such songs repeat the praises and remembrances of the Prophet and saints of Islam and Sufism, including the Sidi saints. The fifth item is an instrumental solo played on the malunga musical bow."
This quote is reformatted for this post.
These videos are presented in chronological order based on their publishing date on YouTube with the oldest dated video given first.
Examples #1: SIDI Dhamal rajkot live in Orisa
Hdjhdjdhf, Uploaded on Aug 15, 2011
Director :- Mo.HANIF H MAJGUL
( S.A.A.H Group :- FIROZ & TOFIK )
Notice the face paint that is worn by the dancers. I wonder if this is a traditional feature of these dances or if it is a modern feature that is meant to approximate "African" face painting.
Example #2: SIDDI GOMA DHAMMAL.BY MOHAMMED SABOO SIDDIQUE.MUMBAI.
Embedding disabled by request
mohammed saboo Siddique, Published on Dec 27, 2012
SIDDI DHAMMAL URS AT DONGRI SIDDI MOHALLA.MUMBAI.
Example #3: Hilarious Siddhi Dhamal Dance of Gujarat
NGOBOX, Published on Apr 26, 2013
This Indian folk dance performed by the Siddhi community of Gujarat state. The Dhamal dance is a religious dance form. Performed by male dancers, the dance is very energetic and graceful. This Indian folk dance is also known as the "Mashira" dance. This form of folk dance is performed in many festive occasions of Gujrat.
The word Siddi is a derivation of the Arabic word `sayyid` or `saydi`. It means captive, or slave. Due to the rich heritage of the origin of the Siddi tribes, the anthropologists are being rightly attracted towards this Siddi tribal community and thus carried on several surveys on them over the years. Especially in Junagadh district of Gujarat, these Siddi tribes have got a major concentration.
A section on the possible origins and meanings of the referent "Siddi" is found in the Wikipedia article on Siddis whose link is given above.
Example #4: Bhuj Memory project - Siddi Dhamal - March 2014 in Bhuj
Bhuj Bole Chhe, Published on May 14, 2014
Discover more about Sidi Dhamal, A music gender by the Sidi Community of Kutch : http://bhujbolechhe.org/en/infos/musi... (part of Bhuj Memory Project)
Notice that the malunga musical bow that is shown at .054 in this video is the same as or very similar to the berimbau played during capoeira in Brazil.
Example #5: Siddhi dhamaal dongri
arif mistry Published on Mar 3, 2015
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