Siddis of Karnataka


How many of you knew of the existence of a significantly sizable African community of India? I am guessing not many. There is extraordinarily little awareness of their presence, their location and culture in media in general. That is probably because it is not a very influential community, and also, they don’t seem to participate in the any of socio-political discussions or noise.

BTW. I am referring to Siddi’s of Karnataka.

Siddi’s find their origin in the Bantu tribe of southeastern Africa, brought to India by Portuguese colonizers as slaves. That is right. It’s similar to but in opposite directions of Indian slaves’ communities built in Fiji, Guyana and West Indies etc. The only difference is Bantus made great soldiers and bodyguards to the royalty, where Indian slaves were taken for farming.

Siddi girl from Yellapur taluk, Uttara Kannada District, KarnatakaIndia. (through Wikipedia)

Once colonies and princely states collapsed, Siddi’s pretty much became redundant. Subsequently, they got assimilated into rural India and ceased being significant. Indian diaspora in Africa, on the other hand, kept appearing on stories. Be it Gandhi’s South African Chronicles or Idi Amin’s economic war on Indians. Even that Divya Bharati’s Saat Samundar had its premise set in Kenya.

Anyways, the first time I heard about Siddi’s was when I was a kid. An African community found their mentions among the Chronicles of Chhatrapati Shivaji when Grandmother narrated them. It goes like this – At some point in history, the Siddi’s gained control over a strategically important Janjira island fort located off Maharashtra’s coast. Shivaji’s Navy laid multiple sieges without any avail and largely remained unsuccessful. The Legend goes that Marathas even used monitor lizards to climb those walls but could not sustain the hot oil poured on them from the top.

Janjira fort , image through wikipedia

It is hard to believe this warrior clan is now reduced mainly as farm labourers or foraging honey from the jungles of Karwar.

I have not personally met one, but based on what I know, they speak Indian languages, worship Indian Gods, dress like Indians. However, they still have retained small little features of African cultures through their collective memory. Have a look:

P.S. There was one attempt by the Government of India to train this community’s youth in Olympics sports. Despite initial success, I believe the program did not take off.

Flesh eating crows and other songs


Nope, this title is not clickbait. I indeed have this weird topic to cover, and you may find it intriguing as well, just like I did. This is mainly to do with Bollywood lyrics related to the title – the crows eating human flesh! Be aware that I am not trying to connect Bollywood to scavenging birds, but I would understand if you wish to refer to them as so.

Okay, let’s start. You would have heard this song titled “nadaan parinde ghar aaja” by A R Rehman, which composed for the movie – Rockstar. If you did, have you happen to focus on the lyric behind it? I did not try to understand until recently. In fact, I was fully concentrating on what this overrated Nepokid Ranbir was trying to bray on the screen.

If you notice, there is a line that reads:

Kaaga re kaaga re mori itni araj tose Chun chun khaaiyo maans. Arajiya re khaaiyo na tu naina more Khaaiyon na tu naina mohe Piya ke milan ki aas

I could not believe my ears when I heard this!. For those who do not read Hindi thoroughly, let me translate it for you. It appeals to stray crows asking them to go ahead and eat his flesh by picking as per preference. That, except not to feast on eyes, which apparently, are required for him to hold a union with his love interest. I am not kidding. This is true.

I had no clue why so much gore in these lyrics. To be absolutely sure about what I heard, I asked Alexa to play it a couple of times more. Amazon’s AI engine picked up my request and queued up a few more songs with the same lyrics on my radio. The next was Sonu Nigam and All Yagnik singing the same in more contemporary dialect Hindi.

कागा सब तन खाइयो चुन चुन खाइयो मांस

दो नैना मत खाइयो मोहे पिया मिला की आस

Then there was another by Kailash Kher, then one by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and I know this now by heart!

Initially, I was so confused about why all these good people singing the recycled verse, appealing to scavenging birds to eat all the flesh but eyes? Is this some kind of sacrificial ritual practiced by a tribe? Or does it have any historical significance?

After a bit of research, I found this blog post that tells me that it was originally written in Punjabi about a millennium ago. It was written by a Sufi mystic in Northwestern India, which is present-day Pakistan. He was Baba Sheikh Farid (1173-1266 ). You can read more details here.

This is what he wrote :

Kaaga karang Dhadoliya saglaa Khaaiyo Mass Aey Do Nainaan Mat Chhuchho pir dekhan ki aas

( O crow! come and peck all this flesh over this skeletal frame of mine, Leave these two eyes untouched for they are in wait of that Grand beloved of mine )

I am not gonna judge the baba or his followers on why this was made famous over centuries because I don’t know how love worked during then. May be birds involved, and maybe not. But our current generations of Bollywood should have known better. This is not the song for the present century, and we should stop using it.

Let me know your thoughts.

Formula one – Hamsters running on wheels


Formula one, in my opinion, is nothing more than few hamsters running inside a wheelhouse. It’s pointless endeavor and utter waste of time of everyone involved, including money and talent. I can list at least 10 reasons why I still hate it. Go ahead and prove me wrong.

  1. It’s not sports: Don’t call a bunny-turtle race, a sport.if you want it to be a sport you assign the same model of cars to all drivers, and then we’ll talk.
  2. It’s not a race: What kind of race needs one of its competitors to slow down as part of a team strategy ? It’s like Yohan Blake asking Usain Bolt to a slowdown because Jamaica said so.
  3. Crashes: I was told in particular, the crashes are specifically are the most spectacular features of the sport. Apparently, that movies such as Death Race were inspired by these races, including F1. If it is true, then it’s deplorable.
  4. It’s not exciting: Around six blokes always ahead of the game, the rest always behind. I take a nap, take a shower, grab a coffee and browse back to the channel – they will be still racing in the same race at same positions!
  5. It’s a pit race: By the sound of it, races are won at the pit stops rather than tracks. It’s like cricket is won in dugout, not field.
  6. Expensive: Considering you’ll only see the start, finish and one glimpse per lap as an in field audience ! Even 1$ is costly if the deal is to sit there and yawn.
  7. Technology: there is this popular notion that the money generated is being put into noble use of inventions in automobile industry. With investment in the neighbourhood of A $500mil a year for each team since last so many years, and I should have expected at the least an alien car craft being invented ! But our cars still breakdown at the signal.
  8. Rich-men sport: How easy is it for a new team tk make an entry into the circuit ? Suppose they do, how many years do they need to compete and log even a single point on board?
  9. Hype: F1 is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme of the sports world with blown up go-karting. People follow because it is uncool not to follow. It’s a fashion statement.
  10. F1 geeks: They irritate me every day with specifics of turbo engines, RPMs, cylinders and another part which never amused me!
An “Exciting” moment in F1
An “Exciting” moment in F1

This is part 2 of what I had written few years back.

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Update : Due to a lot of good friends of mine objected the wording of #3 on crashes being spectacular,  I have reworded it to have less exaggeration.  But content remains same. I cant believe you never heard about it. One example right away, this author explains the romance between danger and dependency of F1 revenue on it. He writes :

……No one, myself included, wants to see drivers die, but by eliminating the potential for death (as nearly as possible), the danger which led to the popularity of the sport is lost. 
The remaining glamour, without the danger, is empty and superficial—glamour for glamour’s sake—an endless parade of celebrities shuffling up and down the pit lane and drivers throwing their cars into turns knowing the risks have been diminished should they get it wrong.

I still stick to all other points, unless convinced otherwise.

Women’s Day and Aigiri Nandini


Happy Women’s Day, everyone!

I know I am delayed by a couple of days to publish this content. Sorry about that. But hey, why would you mind if I post it on a different day. The causes of women’s equality are open items even today as well, right? Additionally, I have little more than a few cliched social media status to share. It’s not a “forward as received” kind of content. 🙂

One. Can we agree on Women’s journey towards equality has been painstakingly slow? It is like watching paint dry. Agreed that we are currently living in a more gender-equal society than at any point in the recorded history of human civilization. However, it’s sad to see we have outsourced the progress of equality to the wrong set of torchbearers. We should’ve never trusted the Left to achieve anything good in this regard. In fact, off late, we’ve seen regression on what was accomplished over the last few decades.!

Let me give one example. Recently, there were some decisions taken by the elected government entities which can potentially kill women sports. I am not kidding. This is true. There is no point in guessing who lobbied it. Potentially, the women may not be able to even qualify to forget winning in their own “women’s sports”. If this momentum continues, this might impact the Olympics as well. Please read through Joe Biden’s First Day Began the End of Girls’ Sports

Second. There is a regression in the way storied are being narrated. The moment an imagined lie is introduced in the story, the credibility goes for a toss. I have written about it in one of my previous posts on a movie review – Gunjan Saxena. Here, a director built an entire movie around a woman officer’s plight in the armed forces, where 100% of the misogynistic treatments was pure work of fiction. The lady officer eventually took the legal route, but the damage was already done. Let’s achieve equality, but not at the cost of truth.

I will leave you with a video. Please consider it a greeting card for women’s day. Its a song called Aigiri Nandini written in Sanskrit by Adi Shankaracharya. If that information were accurate, in all its likelihood, this lyric is 1400 year old!!! The song is a set of praises to the Goddess, the mother of the Trinity of Gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. She takes various forms to visit earth whenever there is the regression of collective values of earthlings. The song sings about this and the qualities attributed to her in a very clever use of language.

Evidently, the same song can be used to appreciate women in more of a philosophical sense. That is why its a great greeting card for women’s day.

Another thought. This song is probably the first rap song, with its full version, has more than 800 words, which are to be sung within a few mins.

Again. Happy Women’s Day, everyone!

The Yazidis And India connection


If you happen to keep track of the seemingly never-ending middle eastern conflicts, you may find this post interesting. Evidently, there are no winners, only losers. However, if you were to assess who lost the most, that would be Yazidis and Kurds’ communities. They are perpetually at receiving end of the wars which has been running for decades now. Their men get killed, and women get sold. Very unfortunate, indeed, and I hope this conflict ends soon, and the desert will settle the score eventually.

The term Kurd was not unfamiliar before this conflict; however, at the time, Yazidis did not ring a bell to many. Only after targeted persecution, the scholars and academics scrambled to research every bit of information that they could find. This also means what the mainstream media and their collective knowledge on this topic are less than a decade old.

I was going through a few of the documentaries on Yezidism and Yazidis in general. The first thing that came to my mind was this community seem to have trapped at that location in a time capsule. If you evaluate their culture and practices, it is evident that they obviously do not belong to that region. Whatever the little assimilation to local culture seems to have achieved with the only purpose of living in harmony. This obviously did never to work and proven from time to time.

Remember the Kalash tribe we spoke about?

The academics’ conclusion is seemed hurried in the available documentaries and were taken based on the surface information available to them. They unimaginatively concluded without attending to outlier or information, which are many. Of course, I did not do as much research as those. But It does not require rocket science to see the pattern amongst linguistic and geological evidence, which near conclusively place them where they are currently present. Even then, a few things are not adding up, and I am shocked to find no mention of these facts in any documentaries.

Okay, this is a list of topics related to Yazidi cultures with the first look at documentaries. I hope some of those academics’ stumble upon my post and consider answering these strange correlations.

Religious Beliefs

  1. It’s an oral, documented and transferred religion. Yazidis pass on their myths through inheritance. There is not centralized text. Just like Vedic texts were propagated through inheritance.
  2. They have angels called Heft Sur. A basic understanding of Persian and Sanskrit can translate what it is – seven gods. Hefte is a Persian word with Sanskrit origin of Sapta for seven. During ancient ages, Indians called their gods Sur and demons Asurs. Exactly then, understandably, Persians called Gods as Asur’s and monsters as Sur. If you asked to put a straightforward logical conclusion, where would you put Yazidis?
  3. They believe in seven angels, the most important being Melek Tawus, a peacock. Here is an interesting trivia for you. Peacock never existed in the Kurdish region. If you need to find one, you need to travel east till you reach… You guessed it right! Indian subcontinent.
  4. Emanations, I.e., God, emanates as 7 transcended angels (haft Sur), sounds very similar to avatars. This is a remarkably similar concept to that of neighboring Zoroastrianism.
  5. Reincarnation based on karma in the current incarnation.

Architecture and artefacts

  1. The template towers mysteriously resemblance with conical shapes.
  2. Snakes guard the temple entrance.
  3. The Peacock lamp looks like Samay used in Indian traditions.

Practices

  1. They do not allow themselves to marry outside the religion or, most importantly, into it. It’s forbidden to convert out or in.
  2. Prayers are directed towards the sun. Sunrise. and sunset aligning the Sandhya Vandana.
  3. Castes. Marriage must be within the same group.
  4. Use of fire in religious practices, including an Aarti.
  5. Practice tilak/bindi between the brow for the forehead.
  6. Salute with folded hands.

The list goes on and on.

Let me know what you think.