Ramzan 2023: The age-old tradition of Sehriwalas fading over time

Many Hyderabadis recall waking up to Sehriwalas in their localities as children

Ramzan 2023: The age-old tradition of Sehriwalas fading over time


HYDERABAD: Muslims around the world are practicing "Roza," which is abstaining from eating and drinking all day during the entire month of Ramadan. The roza (fast) begins with a pre-dawn meal called sehri (suhoor), and it ends with an after-sunset meal called iftar.

Sehri, also known as Suhoor, is a key aspect of the "Roza" fast because Muslims who observe Roza begin their fast with a pre-dawn meal to keep their energy levels up during the day. During Ramadan, they all wake up at 5 a.m. or according to the sehri hours to eat their pre-dawn meal and start Roza.

Many individuals find it difficult to wake up for the morning meal, or sehri, but since it is a religious obligation for all those who want to fast during the day, people wake up early to complete the necessary rituals.

Since many people found it difficult to wake up early, Sehriwalas, also known as Zohridaars, used to wake everyone up by roaming the streets with drums and poems.

Since individuals now wake up to alarm clocks set in smart watches and smart phones, sehriwalas—who were an integral part of Indian Islamic culture—are slowly vanishing.

Many Hyderabadis recall waking up to Sehriwalas in their localities as children. They recall announcements made by Sehriwalas, who pedal the bicycle along and played drums.

Earlier, Sehriwalas used to chant Naats and play drums moving on bicycles. They used to walk down every street, but time constraints prevented them from covering all the streets. Most Sehriwalas now ride motorcycles and use loudspeakers to reach more people in less time. Many Sehriwalas now carry microphones and use them to play pre-recorded naats and chants.

As a tribute to the services of Sehriwalas throughout the month of Ramzan, city residents offer food grains and money to them as part of the Zakat and Fitra charities at the end of Ramzan.

My neighbourhood's Sehriwala had a distinct voice, and the poetry or ode while chanting “Sehri Karo utho, maine pyare nabi ka naam Bola” with a fast beat on his duff and a steel plate attached to his bicycle, recalled Dr. Haseeb Jafferi, Cultural Curator, Sufi Trails.

"He has aged a bit in the last couple of years, and instead of him doing the call out now, he uses a recorded battery-operated mini-speaker in loop, but his own voice still shudders when he reaches my home and a few old residents where he knows still people recognise him," Jafferi added.

Mohammad Shafiullah, a well-known historian from Hyderabad, said, "In my childhood in the 1970s and early 1980s, when I lived in Himayatnagar, we had a series of traditional Sehriwalas, who would invariably come around 2.30 a.m. to 3.00 a.m. and shout out a few verses in Urdu, to do the customary sehri."

Since the Ramzan month is coming to the end, please acknowledge any Sehriwalas you come across in the coming days for their incredible early morning service throughout the Ramzan month.

Next Story

Similar Posts