The Siddi or the Sheedi community are an ethnic group residing in both Pakistan and India. Members are descended from the Bantu people of the African Great Lakes. In Pakistan, locals of Bantu descent are called “Sheedi“.
The three day Sheedi Mela, which is one of the oldest festivals in Karachi, resumed last year after a seven year ban. The festival is a three day event also known as the crocodile festival.
The festival is held during the Pir Mangho Urs which is one of the most important events in the cultural calendar of the Sheedi Community.
Pir Mangho Urs is an annual festival at the shrine of Sufi Pir Mangho that takes place in Karachi. The urs marks the death of Pir Mangho. The urs is held at the Manghopir shrine.
The festival is famous for the role of crocodiles who reside near the shrine of Mangho Pir and are believed to have a spiritual connections. People from all over the country gather at the festival to make pledges at the shrine.
The community visits the pond near the shrine to pay respect to the crocodiles living there. The largest and oldest crocodile, Mor Sahab is 127 years old and is the chief of the crocodiles. Everyone waits for the crocodile to come out of the pond, and the chiefs cover its body with fragrances, flowers, and sindoor, and feed Mor Sahab meat.
The festival is a message of peace, tolerance, and brotherhood for the Sheedi community.
cover image source: tribune.com.pk