KARACHI: A large number of people of Karachi's unique Sheedi Community including women and children gathered on Monday at the historical Shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khawaja Hassan, who is also known as Sakhi Sultan Manghopir, to celebrate "Sheedi Mela".
Hundreds of people of Sheedi community and other communities from across Sindh and Balochistan reached the Manghopir shrine to take part in the four-day-long gathering that started on Monday.
Every year, by holding this annual mela at the shrine, the Sheedis recall their African roots.
The Sheedi community organizes this annual mela or gathering, which is supposed important gathering with religious, spiritual and cultural significance, during which the community members offer special sweets and meat to the sacred crocodile.
Manghopir shrine is located in the Gadap Town of the Karachi, where hundreds of people visit every day and there is huge size pond beside the shrine, where dozens of crocodiles live.
During mela or annual gathering, the devotees including women and children, dance on the rhythm of the drums and then they go to the crocodiles, touch it with devotion and offer food to them.
On Monday, the ritual started at the shrine by the sacrifice of a goat, then some men carrying sweets and a goat head reached at the pond to offer it to the crocodiles and later some women attired in colorful dresses who were carrying decorated sticks, started dance or Dhamal to start the festival.
According to Usman Sheedi, a devotee of the Manghopir shrine, the unique community of Sheedi or Sidi, also known as Makrani, is believed to be the descendants of slaves, sailors and merchants from the East Africa who arrived and became residents of the subcontinent many centuries ago.
Large number of community members lives in Karachi's downtown Lyari and other areas and also live in Hyderabad, Badin, Matli, Tando Muhamad Khan, Tando Allahyar and other towns and cities of Sindh.
The devotees told Daily Times that there are several crocodiles at the pond of the shrine, but among them there is a chief crocodile, which is called the Mor Sahib and with the opening of the Mela, the goat head is offered to the chief crocodile.
"On the mela, a crown is kept on the head of the chief crocodile, the Mor Sahab," said Esso Sheedi, a devotee of the shrine.