Keeping alive centuries-old Ramzan legacy

Keeping alive centuries-old Ramzan legacy
Highlights

The heat and dust of a torturous day was settling down on Saturday, a day before the holy month of Ramzan. Syed Muneer, a resident of Osmanbagh in the Old City of Hyderabad was gearing up for a ritual that he has been doing for the last 30 years- of waking up rozedars (people who fast) for sehri.

Hyderabad: The heat and dust of a torturous day was settling down on Saturday, a day before the holy month of Ramzan. Syed Muneer, a resident of Osmanbagh in the Old City of Hyderabad was gearing up for a ritual that he has been doing for the last 30 years- of waking up rozedars (people who fast) for sehri.

The culture of waking the faithful with sehri songs has been a centuries old tradition and is followed in several cities from Meerut, Aligarh, Delhi, Lucknow and even small towns in India. In Hyderabad too it was once common to see sehri singers but due to modernisation and changing times, there are just about a handful left in the city.

Syed Muneer was just 15 when an old man told him to start singing sehri songs as he has a powerful voice, now 46, though he is blind, he has not missed a single year. He says, “I do it as a duty and the people in the locality respect me a lot and their love keeps me going.” Imran, a resident of Kamatipura says, “Waking up to the songs of sehri can never match an alarm. Technology can never replace the human touch and all of us in and around Osmanbagh wait for Muneer bhai.”

In the days gone by, sehri singers would come up with songs on the spot preceded by ‘rozedaro utho, sehri ka waqt ho gaya hai’ roughly translated, it means- O faithful observers, wake up. It is sehri time. Muneer bhai takes help from a few boys who accompany him. He goes about his duty from 2:40 till 3:45 a.m. knocking on one door after the other and in between singing sehri songs accompanied by a dhol and a mike. The local police personnel too know Muneer bhai well and ensure his safety. Muneer says, “Some go on a two-wheeler but I prefer to go on foot.

People give money as a token of love and that helps.” Muneer who passed out of Darushifa Government Blind School ran a public telephone booth for some time but now devotes his time at the Osmanbagh Jama Masjid. He has three children who are studying. When asked if they would too continue the tradition, Muneer said, “To be frank, I don’t think so. But I can assure till I live I will continue. It gives me a lot of peace.”

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