Sacred pleasure, pain and transformation in African Indian Sidi Sufi ritual and performance | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 1, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2043-1015
  • E-ISSN: 2043-1023


This research explores the importance of linguistic materials in Sidi Sufi ritual and globalized performance, in which the objective is to transform pain and affliction into pleasure and well-being. It examines the notion that by performing such texts within new linguistic contexts during local and global mendicancy as peripatetic faqirs outside the sacred spaces of Sufi shrines, the texts are deverbalized from the perspective of the audience. Sidi performers, however, experience no such distinction between their expressions of devotional texts within their own linguistic environments and in international settings. This article describes, transcribes, translates and interprets Sidi devotional texts as they are performed in Sufi shrines, in homes, palaces and public venues by invitation, and in the streets of villages and towns where they wander uninvited as mendicant faqirs. All such events are considered acts of devotion by the performers, and their linguistic content is preserved faithfully even in international settings. Their vocal genres include the azan, the Muslim call to prayer sanctioned by Islamic orthodoxy, as well as heterodox Sufi devotional verses such as qasidas, qawwalis and zikrs, some addressed to Sidi saints. Performances of these devotional texts often develop into ecstatic dancing called goma or damal, and help to create affective solidarities among Sidis and their followers and audiences. Thus, an invented vernacular communitas, generated locally among Sidis in Gujarat, now links Muslims and non-Muslims globally, affirming the values of sacred pleasure, transformative joy and Sufi Muslim devotion.


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