The tedious labour involved in preparing vermicelli forces youngsters to give up the ancestral vocation
While Haleem outlets, which have already started the countdown to the month of Ramazan, have become ubiquitous and dot every nook and corner of the old city, this delicacy is largely relegated to the interior streets. Thanks to the changing times, the long and fine strands of vermicelli or ‘seviyan’, hung to dry on ropes tied end to end on walls, are now only seen in a few households in old city.
Making of vermicelli or ‘seviyan’ is a herculean task and these days only a few families in old city are involved in its preparation. “The huge amount of labour involved in preparing vermicelli has forced youngsters to give up our ancestral vocation,” says Syed Sadeq Ali, a third generation vermicelli maker from Yakutpura.
Handmade Seviyan are preferred over machine made for its ingredients and thinness. “Though made with bare hands, it is thin in comparison to machine-made product. People prefer handmade ‘seviyan’ because it enhances the taste of ‘Sheerkhurma,’ ” says Mohd. Meraj, an old city trader. The handmade vermicelli is priced three times more than machine-made variety and costs between Rs.150 and Rs. 200 a kilogram.
Traders pay advance months ahead for the Ramazan month to vermicelli makers. As requirements are high and workforce is limited, the activity is carried out throughout the year by a few families. But many more join them, as the month of Ramazan approaches.
“We start at least three months before Ramazan and continue till the festival,” says Malika Begum, from Dabeerpura. Her house is one of the oldest addresses for the local people to drop in to purchase ‘seviyan’. But now she works alone after her sisters and mother dropped out due to age and health issues.
The hard work, however, brings good returns. A family of four can prepare a quintal of vermicelli in four to five days and in the process earn around Rs. 2,000 for each quintal.
However, rains are playing a spoilsport. Vermicelli needs to be dried in bright sunlight and activity comes to halt when there is no adequate sunlight. “There is nothing to worry, we have placed orders well in advance and stocked enough stuff,” says Mohd. Mujeeb a trader at Mandi Mir Alam.