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Keeping alive age-old Ramzan tradition

For the last 18 years, Mohd Ali, 60, has battled hot and humid weather, dark streets, packs of stray dogs and arthritis to keep alive the dying tradition of waking up rozedars (people who fast) for sehri during Ramzan.

lucknow Updated: May 20, 2019 14:57 IST
K Sandeep Kumar
K Sandeep Kumar
Hindustan Times, Prayagraj
Ramzan tradition,Uttar Pradesh,Prayagraj
Mohd Ali giving a wake-up call to rozedars for ‘sehri’.(HT Photo)

For the last 18 years, Mohd Ali, 60, has battled hot and humid weather, dark streets, packs of stray dogs and arthritis to keep alive the dying tradition of waking up rozedars (people who fast) for sehri during Ramzan.

The practice of volunteers waking up rozedars for their predawn meal and prayer before the day’s fast is becoming rarer with every passing year in Uttar Pradesh.

However, undeterred Mohd Ali has been pedalling 50km from his home in Karari area of Kaushambi district all the way to Muslim-dominated old city area of Prayagraj every day in the holy month to give the traditional wakeup call to the faithful.

“I leave my home on my old bicycle each day during the Ramzan and pedal 50km to reach heart of Prayagraj in Chakia. Besides the arthritis ridden knee, the pack of stray dogs is a menace but I always reach the area well in time to give the pre-dawn wake up calls using a drum which I beat as I move in the by-lanes of Kesariya and Chakia areas falling within the radius of 3km of each other—keeping alive a practice started by my late father Deen Mohd decades back,” shared Ali.

He is well aware of the dying tribe of town criers like him. The task has been made gradually obsolete by the arrival of digital clocks and smartphones that now do the job.

“I believe that my special personalised touch is better. I prefer to wake up people by shouting out their names and beating the drums and sometimes even their doors,” he adds while sharing how he is always armed with a stick to fend off the stray dogs during his rounds in often dark and dimly lit narrow lanes.

“Those fasting, wake up. Waseem, wake up,” he yells, calling a resident by name. All the people wake up. It is time for prayers—his cries reverberate along the winding long alleyways.

And Mohd Ali does all this, while himself observing roza, as a selfless service that earns praises and thanks from the faithful besides a treat and some gifts as ‘Eidi’ on Eid. He then returns home and waits eagerly to repeat the practice yet again the next year.

First Published: May 20, 2019 14:57 IST