South Asia / Video / Sidi


"This excellently informative documentary of the history, music, and religion of the Sidis is the latest in a series of valuable educational videos by the noted ethnomusicological team Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy and Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy."
-Richard Wolf, Professor of Humanities, Harvard Univ.
(Source: AEMS News and Reviews, 7:2)

For the complete review at the AEMS website click here for the Spring/Summer 2004 newsletter (link to PDF file).

“It is beautiful.I felt like I was there.”
- Bess Lomax Hawes, personal communication, 5/6/2007.

“This ethnographic video presents groundbreaking information about the music and dance of the Sidis, a heretofore virtually unresearched community ... Throughout this project, Catlin and Jairazbhoy not only make a scholarly contribution to our knowledge of but also advocate for the Sidis ... The video presents the information clearly, for the most part, through competent yet imaginative sequences. It unquestionably succeeds in imparting to the viewer a sense of exhilaration communicated by the performances and the upbeat tone of the project ... the video is most commendable and eminently watchable.”
- Amelia Maciszewski, Ethnomusicology (Winter-Spring 2005) 132-135.

Related Link

Article on the BBC Website "The lost Africans of India"





Sidi Music in the Indian Ocean Diaspora

Sidis descend from Africans who sailed across the Indian Ocean to the west coast of India over many centuries. This documentary project explores the expressions of their Indian and African cultural heritage.

  • The video begins in the Sidi Fort at Janjira Island, built during the heyday of Sidi powers in the Mughal period.
  • It then surveys the music and dances of African-Indian men, women, and children in Karnataka, Hyderabad, Bombay, and Gujarat.
  • Exciting footage of ritual events shows the stages of music during ecstatic trance, exorcism, and celebratory rites, when both male and female Sidi Sufi saints are invoked through euphoric rhythms, voices, and communal dances.
  • Musical instruments such as footed drums, coconut rattles, armpit-held drums, and braced musical bows show the retention of African musical practices.
  • In excerpts from a conference for Sidis and scholars, Sidis present their own views on their history, contemporary issues, and future prospects.
  • The film concludes with exciting concert footage from the first international Sidi tour of England and Wales in 2002.

Narrated by UCLA ethnomusicologists Amy and Nazir Jairazbhoy.

74 minutes


ISBN 1-880519-26-7 VHS Price $70 + S&H

PDF File