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Curtains down on the fakir’s soulful call?

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Alms sake: Fakirs participating in the annual Chanda Urs.
Alms sake: Fakirs participating in the annual Chanda Urs.

S. Harpal Singh

Traditional mode of calling during Ramzan is replaced by public address system

ADILABAD: The bylanes in town no longer reverberate in the wee hours with the fakir’s loud but soulful wake up alarm “Ramzan ke roze-daron, sahri karo utho” or “La Ilaha Illallah”, which he sounded to prod the devout Muslims for making preparations for that day’s ‘sahri’. This traditional mode of calling attention, once a regulation act during the holy month of Ramzan, has now been replaced by the mechanical announcements made over public address systems putting out the time remaining before the meal at ‘sahar’ or dawn can be partaken.

Ramzan is the month for the colourfully attired Muslim fakirs of different denominations to come visiting seeking alms. While the fakirs of all hues can still be found in the streets of residential colonies, the ones who used to wake people have almost vanished from the scene.

“The public address system has put the poor fakirs out of circulation. They were different in that they used to ask for alms just before the end of the holy month having provided the service for the entire period,” points out Mubarak Hussain of Bokkalguda, a patron of the fakirs, about the extinction of the old tradition.

Since olden days, the fakirs who moved around carrying a baton and a lantern were the only indicators of time for people to begin preparations for the day ahead. The rounds of these fakirs started at about 2 a.m. and ended nearer to the ‘sahri’ time which was gauged from the ‘azaan’ from the mosque.

In the days gone by not many households boasted of watches or clocks. Citizens had therefore found the alert by these mendicants a compulsion to follow.

The food to be served as ‘sahri’ had to be made in kitchens of individual homes as there were no hotels as in the present times.

The fakir tradition also brings into light the existence of a society until a couple of decades back that had people with strong morals and higher mutual tolerance levels. Hardly anyone belonging to other religions seemed to mind being woken by the loud wail of the roaming fakir.


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