Rickshaw pullers by day, wakeup callers by wee hours in Ramzan

By Faisal Fareed, TwoCircles.net,

Lucknow: They are rickshaw pullers by day but they turn wakeup callers by the wee hours in the holy month of Ramzan. One of the oldest and most deep- rooted traditions of Ramzan is the night-caller (Naqarchis) to wake Muslims shortly before dawn for their last meal ‘Sehri’ before the beginning of the fast. Traditionally, Naqarchi would walk through streets and alleys beating a small drum to a simple rhythm, calling on people to wake up in time for some last minute eating.

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While the Naqarchi may not know his neighbourhoods as well as he did in the past, many still continue the tradition of drumming and calling on people to wake up and eat. One such in the old city areas is Mohd Islam (55). Residing in the old areas Islam is a rickshaw puller by design and wake vendor by desire. “If I may remember I started this at the tender age of 13, since then it has been 42 years that I have been doing this. I cover the entire old city areas from Chowk to Nakhas, from Tudhiyaganj to Aishbagh,” he said.

Mohd Islam

He walks to nearly every houses in the neighbourhood, and stops in front of each house, calling its occupants by name to wake up for Sehri. For the Rozedars, his drum beat thrice and chant: “Rozedaro Utho Waqt e Sehri aagaya hai”, coupled with religious verses which loosely translates into, “wake up, praise God as Ramadan is the month of forgiveness, is enough for the denizens to wake up from the slumber.

Another such Naqarchi is Haider Ali who resides at Golaganj. The tradition goes back to the early days of Islam when Naqarchi used to call people from the top of the mosque to stop eating. The drum was introduced later as an instrument to assist them. “I visit nearly 6 to 7 areas within an hour before Fajr ki Azaan. I visit areas like Maqbara, Takia Peer Jalil, Nazeerabad, Aminabaad, Jahulal Pul, etc,” he said.

This may be noted that these people are not paid and makes living by their day time work. For their services they are generally given some clothes as affection from the neighbourhoods at the end of Ramzan. Some of the families also hand over some money but it is not mandatory.