Every year, over 100 Muslim families of Old City engage themselves in making the popular dholak for the Ganesh festival

When divisive forces are busy sowing seeds of distrust, there are also shining examples of people spreading the message of oneness and tolerance. A case in point is the 100-odd Muslim families of the dholak-makers settled in the south of the city.

During the Ganesh festival every year, Mohd. Aslam and his three-member family get busy making the dholak at his small makeshift house in Falaknuma, which doubles up as a workshop. The family is among those engaged in this vocation. These are bought by Hindu devotees during the festival period on a large scale.

“We are into the vocation for the last many years and make about 50 drums during the season and sell it,” says Aslam, who traces his roots to Uttar Pradesh. “We have been settled here for last many decades though,” he adds.

The dholak-makers have a market across the city, especially at places where the Ganesh idols are sold.

“Buyers seldom look into the caste and creed of the sellers. Either they come to us and buy it or we convince them and sell it in the markets,” says Khader Ali, a dholak-maker.

The community makes around 4,000 drums and sells it across the city, including far-flung places like L.B. Nagar, BHEL and Alwal during the season. Such is the product’s popularity that some of the families attached to Ganesh pandal organisers have turned regular buyers and place orders for good quality of the instrument days in advance.

However, heavy rains are playing a spoilsport this year, forcing the families to race against time to cash in on the demand. The cost of a dholak depends upon the material used in its making. They generally come for anywhere between Rs. 150 and Rs. 500.

Raw material is brought in from places in North India and is assembled here to give it a shape of a dholak.

“We manage to make around Rs. 150 to Rs. 200 a day. The earnings are a bit high in the festive season, but we keep the seasonal earnings aside to buy raw material and also to have some savings for the lean season,” says Azmath Ali, another dholak maker.

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