Pakban, n. A person of Pakistan origin

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The Mysteries of Manghopir:

Shrine, Crocodiles, and Sulphur Springs

Building on the first part of this exploration, today we will focus on the Sheedi Jaat festival celebrated by Afro-Pakistanis at Manghopir and also the Sulphur Springs Public Baths. The image to the right shows live feeding of Manghopir crocodiles circa 1870s. Karachi has a sizable population of people of African origin. Every year the Sheedis, the local name for Afro-Pakistanis, gather in Manghopir area, where they erect a temporary colony and live there for an entire week with their families and dance and sing. The week long festival is called Sheedi Jaat. The date of the festival is decided with mutual consultation among notables of the five socio-cultural groups of the Sheedi tribe each year. The five groups of Sheedi community are Lasi, Hyderabadi, Kharadari, Lasbela and Sheedis. The festival is arranged in moderate climate, thus its timings differ from year to year. The festival is a curious combination of solemn spiritual rituals and cultural celebrations. These include collective sessions of meditation accompanied by sacred lyrics often rendered by an elderly woman or man in a soulful voice, followed by dhamaal sessions.

During the festival people make their pledges at the shrine of Pir Mangho through offering fresh meat (believed to be the sacrificial) to the crocodiles, and Sheedis believe that the creatures do not harm the saint’s followers.