The Crocodile Festival Begins in Karachi Today
The Sheedis are an ethnic group in Pakistan with dark features and curly hair whose ancestors are believed to have been brought to the subcontinent as slaves from Africa. Each year a ‘Crocodile Festival’ is held at the 800-year-old shrine at Manghopir, an arid, hilly area at the outskirts of Karachi, to celebrate the annual traditional ritual of dancing and singing and feeding the 100 or so crocodiles at an adjacent pond. I went there at midday today when folk music and songs were just about filling the air. This was accompanied by the beating of drums. As the tempo built up the procession of pilgrims started to proceed towards the pond. A few devotees slipped into a trance, which is also due to the consumption of a locally brewed alcoholic drink taken by the dancers, men as well as women. Gaily dressed children, with sweetmeats and bread on their heads, led the procession which was to feed the crocodiles and also to pay homage to the saint. The ‘king’ of the crocodiles is honored by feeding him meat and garlanding him. I am uploading some pictures that I have taken.