Siddis of Gujarat: contrasting perspective
The vast population of the sub-continent of India is composed of different ethnic groups with diverse cultures and languages. There are many instances in Indian history that record the arrival of foreign immigrants who have settled, flourished and adapted to the Indian culture. For example to avoid religious oppression by the Muslims, many Iranians migrated to India and formed a Parsee community. They integrated themselves into the Indian society in terms of national citizenship and languages but simultaneously maintained their distinct ethnic identity, traditions and behavioral practices. Another such instance from ancient times is of the Siddi community who were the immigrants from African who mainly came as slaves and a few of them as traders. This project attempts to create a digital experience of their rich culture, their adaption to the locality they settled into and the conflicts that exist within the community. In the process, I identified a communication problem within their social, economical and political context and the conflicts that followed owing to the inability of one group to empathize with the problems of the other. I focused on two major settlements of the Siddis within Gujarat which are the Junagadh tribal and the Ahmedabad urban district. I ended up observing the both the communities had contrasting stories to offer of their past, their culture, its preservation and the present status. For example, the Junagadh Siddis have been provided Scheduled Tribe recognition by the government, which seemed to unfair to the Ahmedabad Siddis, since they are not given any such special acknowledgement as they live in an urban space. The end result of my project is a documentary film on the community showing recognition of their identity, the difference in their lifestyles and how these dissimilarities end up becoming the reason of personal grievances and conflicts. It also helps in bringing to light the Siddi community and the disparities within the community and society at large. Objectives: 1. Exploring and first understanding the Siddi community residing at the urban (Ahmedabad) and rural (Junagadh) areas of Gujarat. 2. Identifying a communication problem present within the community. 3. Using a medium that appeals to a large audience.