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Jambur Gir India "Siddi Si Baat"

In This Diwali festival, tourists visiting Gir forest in Junagadh will get a chance to take home designer souvenirs made by women of Siddi tribe, a distinctly Negroid-looking community that resides on the periphery of the Gir Forest. The State Tribal Development Department has roped in National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) to train Siddi women in making lifestyle products like bags, clutches, jewellery and traditional Kutchi embroidery.

Associate Professor Panchami Mistry will conduct a four-month workshop at Hadmatiya village in Sasan Gir. Panchami says, “Siddi women are educated and can quickly grasp anything — a plus point for them. They are also very hard-working and want to earn good money for their family.

Since they are already good at making handicrafts, we have decided to train them in designing lifestyle products, which can be embellished with African and Gujarati artwork. Also, they would be trained in making bead and wooden jewellery. We will also sensitise and encourage these women to come up with their own ideas and designs in making such products.”

She adds, “During the initial stage of the project, we received an overwhelming from women who want to participate in this workshop as they wish to be self-employed rather than depend on the male members of the tribe.

The products, made by Siddi women (below), will feature African and Gujarati art
Around 150 women will be divided into three groups for the workshop. The products will range from handbags, clutches, pen stands, cushion covers, photo frames, toys and bead as well as wooden jewellery.”

To give a unique identity to these products, NIFT will promote the figurine of Gazala — daughter of one of the Siddi women — dressed in Gujarati or Siddi attire. This mascot will be available with all products and will also be the logo of the project.

“Gazala is a three-year-old girl from the tribe. She is very intelligent and naughty. She is the perfect mascot for us. The ‘Gazala’ logo will ensure that customers will immediately associate products with Siddi tribe. We want people to know about this ethnic tribe which has embraced Gujarati culture and tradition wholeheartedly,” said NIFT professor.

The Siddis are a tribal community, whose ancestors were brought by Arab merchants from Africa around 600 years ago to serve as soldiers or slaves under the Portuguese and British authorities, or as servants to the Nawabs. More than 22,000 Siddis live in 19 villages in Junagadh.

Jambur Gir India