Kheer made of handmade seviyan forms part of the daily diet of Muslims during Ramzan
It's all in the hands that tear, punch and smash the dough, later to coax it into fine strands of vermicelli hung to dry on ropes tied from end to end. Wizardry is the word to define the deft hand sweeps that transform the shapeless dough into lissom seviyan.
The encore of this magic is witnessed throughout the day and spread across the Ramzan season in the city. For, kheer made of the handmade seviyan forms part of the daily diet of thousands of the city's Muslims after daylong fasting.
“We start four months ahead of Ramzan or else the demand can't be met,” says Yousuf Khan, one among the three brothers at Malakpet, which is famous for the vermicelli made from their humble dwellings.
Daily production ranges anywhere between 25 and 50 kg per household, depending on the hands available. This season, the trade is much better than last year when the seviyan makers incurred huge losses due to frequent showers.
“Not all can do it. We often face shortage of labour because whoever comes to help does it out of goodwill and not for money,” Mr.Khan says. Two of his sons, apart from other workers, are engaged in the home-based industry.
Yousuf's elder brother Anwar Khan claims that the art of handmade vermicelli is a family tradition handed down from generation to generation. Only people from his immediate and extended families know it.
“My grandfather Vazir Khan began it during the Nizam's time, and handed it down to my father Sardar Khan. We are 18 of his children, 14 surviving. Of the six boys, we three are continuing the tradition,” he says, and adds with pride that those engaged in the business at Yakutpura, Dabeerpura, and Imliban are but members from his extended family.
Despite a deluge of machine-made vermicelli in the market, the handmade sevian has retained its place in people's hearts. The evidence is in the number of orders the Khans get, despite the price being as high as Rs.100 per kg.
“I was once asked by a very wealthy man to train one worker in the art of making sevian. In return, he promised a machine that can churn out ten quintals of sevian per day. But I rejected the offer. He had business in his mind, not love,” says the senior Khan, and adds that the government, through its patronage, can save the art from perishing.
“We get enough for our labour. All our festival expenses are covered from the earnings. We don't wish for more,” says the cheerful Yousuf Khan who sells flowers and does floral decorations when not making sevian. Nor does one wish for greater pleasure than the taste of kheer left to linger on the taste buds!