After nearly seven years of hiatus due to security concerns in Manghopir neighborhood, just outside the city of Karachi, the Sheedi community held the decades-old crocodile festival (or Sheedi Mela).
The festival is held during the Pir Mangho Urs which is one of the most important events in the cultural calendar of the Sheedi Community – a community of African-Descended Pakistanis.
It is held every year usually during the summers for three to four days with the exact dates being decided by the elders of the community.
The festival is famous for the role of crocodiles who reside near the shrine of Mangho Pir and are believed to have a spiritual connection with the Pir. The festival attracts people from different ethnicities who come to make their pledges at the shrine.
The elders of the community call out the chief of the crocodiles ‘Mor Sahib’ who is 127 years old and is 12 feet long. Once it’s out, the caretaker feeds it with sweets and meat and adorn it with flowers, and fragrances. When the crocodile eats the meat and raises its neck above the ground, the attendees believe their ritual has been accepted.
The pond next to the shrine houses more than 150 crocodiles which are all sacred to the African-Pakistani community. The pond currently measures about 400 feet long and 200 feet wide and is nourished by underground streams. According to the locals, it isn’t enough to house the crocodiles living inside which are usually six to seven feet in length.