There’s no denying that Sufi shrines have a ‘magnetic effect’ on people. They have this aura around them that invokes a certain emotion out of you, even if you’re one of the biggest skeptics when it comes to such things. For many, the more interesting aspect about shrines is the myth surrounding the shrine than the actual person buried. The background story of such personalities and the mythology connected to them, has a life of it’s own. One such tale that caught my attention, in particular, relates to Sufi Pir Mangho.
Right on the outskirts of Karachi, there’s a neighborhood called Manghopir that is home to the shrine of Sufi Haji Syed Sakhi Sultan or simply Pir Mangho
Sufi Pir Mangho could be described as the patron saint of the Sheedi and Makrani communities. For those not familiar with them, they are said to be descendants of Afro-Arabs from Zanzibar that once migrated to this region.
The unique aspect of this shrine is a vast pond, a sulfur spring and the place is crawling with crocodiles.
While they are said to be of docile nature, the caretakers of the shrine still advise caution to the people coming in to visit the shrine.
So what exactly does the presence of these crocodiles have to do with Sufi Pir Mangho?
Well, Pir Mangho migrated from Iraq back in the 13th century when it was being raided by the Mongols. He eventually settled in the region that went on to become the city of lights – Karachi. The specific area where he used to live was desolate. Pretty soon he gained disciples that consisted people from fishing communities. The neighboring areas said to be inhabited by crocodiles.
So Pir Mangho was living in a place that was surrounded by crocodiles. Perhaps he even fed those animals at times. Given his influence, the locals began to see him as someone with miraculous powers of sorts, because the crocodiles weren’t scared of him.
Upon his death, a shrine was built around his grave and a very odd legend was constructed by the locals. As per the legend, Pir Mangho through his special powers turned lice into crocodiles.
The crocodiles are sometimes referred to as disciples of Pir Mangho
They say that the crocodiles have been present in the Mangho lake alongside the shrine for quite a while. The lake is said to be the result of a major flood that took place. Certain archaeologists are of the opinion that hundreds of crocodiles have been present in the lake since 3300-1200 BC. The current crocodiles are said to be descendants of those from Pir Mango’s time.
A festival of the disciples of Pir Mangho takes place every year for the Sheedi community
In the festival, the Sheedi and Makrani communities celebrate their African roots. For the past seven years, the festival was stopped due to the security situation in the country. Visitors on a regular basis also dwindled in number due to the presence of militants in the region. However, during the start of this year, the festival did indeed take place.
We hope that it continues to happen for the years to come and with the shrine once again claiming its status as the symbol of identity for the Makrani population.
Additional information: Dawn.com
Cover image via: dostpakistan.pk