BADIN, Oct 23 Sheedis, as people of African origin are called in Sindh, gave vent to their individual cultural identity in a carnival, “Habash Festival”, here on Thursday night by dancing and paying tribute to Hazrat Bilal (RA) from whom, they believe, their race has descended. The festival was organised by the Al Habash Organisation at the shrine of Pir Ali Shah, which was first of its kind in Badin, home to a sizeable population of Sheedis.

Hundreds of Sheedis, particularly from lower Sindh participated in the fair.

Bilali's musical troupe, popular for its artistic performance, presented “Mugarmano Dance” to the thunderous and reverberating drumbeat of 'kangas', tall drums, which come to the waist the drummer.

In Sheedi culture, when there is a dance it is not performed by some selected few and watched idly by others but it is participated by all the people present there, ending difference between the performers and the audience.

Men and women, old and young put aside their differences and jumped into the fray, gyrating to the drumbeat and adding voice to rhythm of the song.

The brief performance left a deep and profound impact on the minds of the audience.

Sheedis believe the Mugarmano dance is a mark of celebrating and reviving the happiness Hazrat Bilal might have felt while keeping his master, Holy Prophet (PBUH) happy by his faithfulness and devotion to the cause.

The dance is traditionally performed on live embers but it could not be done on the occasion as the programme had to be curtailed because many people had to rush to the marriage ceremony of Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza's son Hasnain Mirza.

Earlier, speakers shed light on the significance of the programme and paid rich tributes to Hazrat Bilal (RA). They urged people to follow in the footsteps of the great companion.

They said that such cultural and spiritual events would create awareness among people about their cultural identity and also bring joy to their lives.

Leaders of the Al Habash Organisation Mohammad Saghar, Murtaza Qambrani, Aziz Qambrani, Abdullah Sheedi and others spoke at the programme.

Sheedis can be found everywhere in lower region of Sindh from Karachi to Badin, besides Mekran and adjoining areas of neighbouring Balochistan province.

In Karachi, they hold their three-day annual festival at Mangho Pir, a place made famous by crocodiles living in a pond near a shrine of a Sufi saint; and similar fairs at smaller levels at different places, particularly in Lyari.