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While some non-Bengali parents planned foreign vacations during this time of year, my parents wisely made it a point to make us experience every bit of the festival, year after year, in a manner no less than a Bengali would. My allegiance to the festival thus started.
Growing up in India, I never met or heard about Indians with African lineages. Then in 2005 I watched a dance performance by the Sidi Goma, a group of musicians from an African Indian community, and I was astonished and mesmerised. Since then I've discovered that India's African roots are much older than the Siddis, and are not only evident in numerous other communities, but percolate through direct descent in the blood of at least 600 million Indians.