Our very own Ramadan customs in Kashmir
By: Er Ishfaq Khaliq
Every year, Muslims around the world anticipate the sighting of a new crescent moon at the end of the month of Shaban that signifies the official first day of Ramadan- the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered to be the most sacred month in the Islamic faith.
Ramadan, one of the months in the Islamic calendar was also part of ancient Arabs calendar. The name Ramadan is derived from the Arabic root word “AR-RAMAD” which means crouching heat. It is believed in 610 A.D 610, the angel Gabriel appeared to Prophet Muhammad S.A.W and revealed him the Quran, Islamic holy book. The revelation during the Laylat al Qadar (the Night of power) is believed to be among the last ten days of Ramadan.
During Ramadan, Muslims perform extra prayers and observe fast for the whole month restraining from eating or drinking from dawn to dusk. Charities, alms giving, forgiving and letting go bad habits is also done during the month. Reciting Quran, making the actions intentional and selfless, abstaining from gossiping, lying, and fighting are some of the ideals that Muslims tend to achieve in this moth.
In Kashmir, for a long time, we have had a beautiful and a wonderful Ramadan tradition. Here Ramadan is not different from other parts of the country but we have our customs and rituals which make our Ramadan more beautiful and charming. While there are many things that are performed in Kashmir and are similar to other parts of the world, however certain things that are observed here are very specific to Kashmir alone. Some of them include:
Sahar Khan: No matter if our mosques are fully electrified and have huge loudspeakers, no matter we have smart gadgets including mobile phones, that are nicely suited for setting up alarms- Kashmir continues to wake up for Sehri only when Sahar Khan comes beating a drum and yelling wakeup calls! Sahar Khan has been our alarm clock for decades and we continue to cherish this tradition even now.
This is an amazing tendency of the people of Kashmir, especially of the city and towns that Sahar Khan continues to be part of our Ramadan schedule. Usually this person (Sahar Khan) is someone living on the margins and the month of Ramadan is an opportunity for him to earn some money by waking up very early and walking through the lanes and roads while beating a drum and yelling wakeup calls.
Babribeoul (Basil seed) drink for Ifftar: The babribeoul drink is famous during the month of Ramadan. This is one such drink that each and every household in Kashmir will arrange during the month of Ramadan. It is prepared in a few combinations and people usually drink it with boiled milk or water. This is also an age old tradition in Kashmir and continues to remain in vogue till date.
Firini with poppy seeds: Served either hot or even chilled, Kashmiri Ferni is one of a type. Though it may resemble the mainland Indian Ferni or even the Iranian Ferni, but our recipe is different in many ways. The ingredients including poppy seeds are very rarely used anywhere else.