Siddis are a Negroid ethnic group of western India, largely found in Saurashtra and Rajpipla. Their name is synonymous with the Dhamal dance.
The Siddi community has many clans: Mosgul, Mokwana,
Chotiyara, Mori, Sirwan, Parmar, Morima, and Makava. Most have their own
clan Pir and all have equal status.
The clan is an important unit of social organization in Siddi society. Locally called "Shakh" or "Atak", an important function of the clan is regulation of marriage. After marriage girls are initiated into the clans of their respective husbands.
While Siddis in Jhambur indulge in 'Pan' and 'Supari', they do not consume any 'Mahuva', they claim. They have mutton and rice 'Akhni', 'Mitha Chawal' or 'Jarda', sweet 'Gundi Gathia' at weddings. Everyday food of the Siddi's is mostly Gujarati vegetarian and sometimes they also have fish from Veraval. At feasts they serve 'Paya', 'Biryani', 'Shir Khorma', 'Haleem', 'Khichda' during Ramzan and are strict about eating only 'Halal' or Kosher meat.
The traditional Jamat council maintains customs and norms of
society, takes care of community welfare and also looks after fairs and
Siddis settled in Zafrabad, Surendranagar, and Jhambur of Junagadh in the Saurashtra region perform the famous Dhamal dance. Also called the "Mashira Nritya", earlier it was performed after returning from a successful hunt of wild animals when Siddis would be overwhelmed with joy and in a state of frenzy.
They sing in the African Swahili language. A unique aspect of their Dhamal dance is the action of throwing a coconut high up in the air and cracking it on their head without fail. Another action is when they walk on live coals with bare feet in an acrobatic dance with fierce facial expressions. Their movements displays a supple neck and waist, dancing to a faster beat as the tempo of the drums picks up. This outstanding dancing style has been retained for generations by the Siddis.
In Jhambur the wedding dress is a frock, 'Ijar', 'Odhani', brides wear ear 'Buttis', nose 'Kato', neck 'Dora' in silver or gold, 'Bedi' and 'Sankre', 'Bangeli' on hand in 'Rupa' mixed with silver. They wear agate stone beads. Women wear silver and gold jewellery, and men wear agate rings set in silver and 'Kantha' around the neck. Siddis in other areas wear regular clothes, not peacock feathers like the ones in Rajpipla.
Fairs in Jhambur are held at Nagarchi Bawa Majar Durgah and
Dosal Pir Majar. Here the Dada ki Jhakar song is sung for the Dhamal
dance. The custom of cracking coconuts on the heads of dancers is not
followed in Jhambur. The fire dance at Moharrum is performed at Hodinar
They worship Baba Gaur, an Abyssinian saint whose tomb is on a hill above Ratanpur carnelian mines in western Rajpipla. They dance to the 'Dhol' (drum) and 'Jhunjhuna' rattle at his Durgah.
The presiding saint in Jhambur is Nagarshi Pir whose tomb is in the village. Other festivals are Mai Parsa and Mai Misra. Siddis of surrounding areas come in large numbers to join the festivities with their neighbours.