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Meet the ‘sehariwala’ who has been waking Mumbaikars with his twilight Ramadan walks

The people who sustain the tradition are popularly known as El Musaharaty in Egypt and Sehar Khans in Kashmir

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Ramadan Market in Mumbai. Image Source: Huffingtonpost.in
  • Sheikh also known as Taj Bhai has been waking the Mumbaikars from last 18 years for sehar
  • He starts at 3 and ends the trek by quarter past four, about 15 minutes to have his meal before the fasting begins
  • Sheikh is among the few practitioners of this dying Ramazan tradition

While we have often heard people saying that Mumbai is the city that never sleeps, it will not be wrong to say that it is only because of people like Mohammed Farooq Qureshi Sheikh who have been keeping the city on a move.

Sheikh aka Taj Bhai as he is popularly known, has made it a custom for the last 18 years every Ramadan to remind the Mumbaikars to wake up for sehar (the meal eaten before commencing the fast for the day).

Sheikh begins his trek at three in the morning and charts a seven kilometre march from Shafai Masjid in Dongri to Dawoodbhoy Fazalbhoy High School in Chinch Bunder.

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 While the distance is not much but he walks through every lane and turn, shouting, “Neend se jaago, sehari ka waqt ho gaya. Zindagi ka kya bharosa? Ramzan mile ya na mile.” (Wake up, it’s time for sehar. Who knows what life will bring? If we are able to get Ramadan, or not?).

The 56-year-old ‘sehariwala’ completes his work by quarter past four, about 15 minutes before sunrise, to have his meal before the fasting begins.

Sheikh is among the few practitioners of the dying Ramadan tradition, which believes in waking people up for sehar. This is a tradition that dates back to a time when people did not have access to clocks and needed someone to inform them about the time.

Sheikh during wake-up call. Image Source: Dawn.com
Sheikh during wake-up call. Image Source: Dawn.com

The practice is popularly known as Musaharaty in Egypt and those carrying it out are called El Musaharaty. In Kashmir, the people who sustain the tradition are known as Sehar Khans.

Unfortunately, Sehar Khan or the El Musaharaty, is becoming increasingly extinct as people hugely rely on their mobile phones or alarm clocks to tell them time.

Sheikh started with his Ramadan walks when he was in his mid-30s. His wife passed away when he was 22 and their son died soon after he was born.

Talking to Sroll.in, he revealed, “In the beginning, I would walk up to the last floor in each building and call out to people. Now, I am too old to do that so I have this megaphone.”

Saif Sathi, who has grown up seeing Taj Bhai completing his twilight walks feels, “There are so many people who don’t have anyone to wake them up.”

Sathi added, “People who sleep on the streets, for one thing. Even the local mosque has no one to wake them up. My family, too, relies on his call to awaken.”

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Sheikh believes there are still ‘sehariwallas’ dwelling in the “poorer areas of the city” like in slums in Kurla or Nala Sopara since not everyone there might have a phone.

But in the main city, he claims that he might be the sole practitioner of the tradition.

Apart from giving these wake-up calls, last year, when monsoon was late in arriving, Sheikh began going to the Kasaiwada area in Kurla, asking people to pray for rain. He did the same this year as well, when the monsoon arrived late.

At times, when asked by local municipal councillors, he even announces government schemes.

Sheikh plans to continue this unique profession as long as he is “hale and hearty.”

ALSO READ:

  • Aparna Gupta

    Ramadan is a tradition which distinguish Muslim community. It has now became a unique part of our tradition. Its good to see that someone is sustaining that tradition.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Really good that this tradition is been followed until now

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At this age and time of my life, I seek peace and freedom from prominence: Amitabh Bachchan

This is what Amitabh Bachchan has to say on the notice of BMC.

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Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan. Wikimedia Commons
  • Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan says at 75 he only seeks freedom from prominence, which has seen him face allegations in the Bofors scandal, Panama Papers case and most recently for “illegal construction” on his property.

“At this age and time of my life, I seek peace and freedom from prominence… To be left to lead the last few years of my life with and within myself… I do not seek epithets, I abhor them… I do not seek headlines, I do not deserve them/. I do not seek acknowledgment, I am not qualified for it,” Amitabh posted on his blog on Sunday.

Amitabh’s post comes just days after his lawyer denied any illegal construction on the actor’s property in Mumbai’s Goregaon East area in relation to a notice sent by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

“The mentioned ‘notices’ have yet to be seen or served to me. But I guess in time it shall come.”

In the lengthy post, Amitabh said when there are accusations, “at times, I would prefer to correct the manner… At times it is prudent to remain quiet”.

But on an issue such as the BMC allegation, he said it’s the “system that shall resolve it, not the media”.

The actor, who has been in the industry for over four decades, also cited past examples, such as what he went through when his family’s name cropped up in the Bofors scandal.

“For years we were grilled, declared traitors, abused and humiliated by the hour for several years…,” he wrote, and further recalled how they moved against a UK paper and won.

He said how after almost 25 years later, their name was cleared in the scandal.

“When the media carried the news here in India, the press during one of its interactions with me asked me what I was going to do about it… Whether I would seek information on who did it or seek retribution.

“What retribution and information will I seek’ Will it take away the years of suffering and mental torture that we went through’ Will it cure… Will it rest’ No, it will not… So I told them, the media, I do not wish to make any comment on it… the matter is over for me.”

Amitabh Bachchan also brought up his mention in the Panama Papers leaks.

“We were asked for reactions, for responses, for justification or not, for replies to their investigative queries… Two instant replies were given out by us… Of denial and misuse of the name. They were printed… but the questions continued.”

“The fullest cooperation has been extended at all hours as dutiful citizens. And even after, if there is any more query that needs to be addressed, we shall comply,” he added.

In the end, he quoted a Jewish joke.

“A Jew passes away and goes to Heaven, knocks on the door of the Lord, and having suffered the ostracized life that the community has, asks the Lord: ‘Lord! Is it true that we are the chosen people” The Lord looked benevolently at the Jew and in a most gentle voice replied: ‘Yes my son .. you are the chosen people’. And the Jew replied: ‘Dear Lord… Would you mind choosing someone else for a change… Coz we’ve had enough!’”

Amitabh Bachchan concluded: “I often wish that for myself.”(IANS)

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Longest Head Massage Chain by 600 women in Mumbai bags Guinness World Record

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Longest Head massage chain
Women assembled to form the world's longest head massage chain. Twitter.

A group of 600 women in Mumbai got together to make the world’s longest head massage chain, creating a Guinness World Record.

As an initiative to promote the significance of hair oiling regularly, Bajaj Almond Drops Hair Oil had organised an event wherein these women assembled to form the longest head massage chain in Mumbai’s Growel’s Mall in Kandivali.

The event went socially viral and was capable to spread the desired message to the public. People have praised the efforts of the women participating in the longest head massage chain for bringing into light the long-lost tradition of head massage in India.

A huge crowd had lined up at the location to watch the mesmerising Guinness World Record of the massage chain. Hair oiling is essential to maintain the nourishment and shine of the hair follicles which also helps in preventing hairfall, dandruff and premature greying of hair.

 

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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Manmade Urban Flooding: Poor Drainage, Plastic Clogging Contribute to floods, Say Experts

Steps such as rainwater harvesting, ban on use of plastic bags and better use of weather forecasts will go a long way in helping tackle flooding in cities after rains

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Urban flooding
Heavy monsoon in Mumbai in August 2005. Wikimedis

New Delhi, Sep 11, 2017: Urban floods are entirely manmade with poorly maintained drains, plastic bags, shrinking open spaces and climate change contributing to accumulation of water on roads after a heavy downpour, experts say.

They said that steps such as rainwater harvesting, ban on use of plastic bags and better use of weather forecasts will go a long way in helping tackle flooding in cities after rains.

Heavy downpours have been disrupting normal life in almost all metro cities in India, with Mumbai bearing the brunt last month which led to death of at least six persons.

Experts said a range of factors including rapid migration to urban areas and “lackadaisical attitude” of civic authorities were among the factors that contribute to cities coming to a standstill after heavy rains.

They said citizens also have to behave responsibly and ensure that plastic bags or used food plates are not thrown in the open or in the neighbourhood drains.

V.K. Sharma, Senior Professor of Disaster Management at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), said the cities need a proper system of garbage collection and sewage disposal and regular cleaning of drains.

“It is true that poor drainage and sewage system is the real cause of urban flooding. There is also migration to cities which often leads to land encroachment and exerts pressure on the existing civic infrastructure,” Sharma told IANS.

Sharma said the urban planning has to have a long-term perspective and infrastructure should keep pace with growth of population. He said rain water harvesting should be made mandatory.

“There is also the need of fixing accountability of government officials and municipal authorities if drains are not properly cleaned. Strict penalties should be imposed on people throwing garbage in the open,” he said.

He said steps have been taken at some places to ban use of plastic bag but it should be enforced strictly.

“There is need to make people aware. This will also meet the larger goal of cleanliness,” he said.

Sharma said that prediction of the meteorological department are fairly accurate and authorities can issue timely alerts to people in case there is prediction of very heavy rainfall.

“This will also help prevent loss of life,” he said.

Santosh Kumar, a professor at the National Institute of Disaster Management with expertise in disaster risk reduction and policy planning, said climate change was also a factor in cities getting excessive rainfall.

“Urban flooding occurs when water flows into an urban region faster than it can be absorbed into the soil. Earlier, a city received such amount of rainfall in two to three weeks,” Kumar said, referring to Mumbai getting 350 mm rainfall on August 29-30.

He said the cities do not have spaces to absorb the excess water or to store it.

“Rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and population growth have also contributed to drainage systems getting congested. These drains are not able to take the pressure of huge water accumulated due to heavy rain, leading to waterlogging,” Kumar told IANS.

He said steps should be taken to improve garbage disposal and ensure that plastics do not find their way to drains.

“Urban ecosystems comprising marshlands, wetlands, lakes and rivers have steadily deteriorated,” Kumar added.

Vinod Kumar Jain, director of NGO Tapas which works in revival of water bodies in Delhi, said “water harvesting can play a significant role in reducing the chances of flooding in urban areas.”

Rainwater harvesting refers to trapping and storing rainwater so that it can be used at a later time when the need arises.

Heavy rainfall in Delhi last month had flooded roads and caused huge traffic snarls. On August 19, many parts of Chandigarh were flooded due to heavy rains. Chennai had witnessed severe flooding in 2015 while floods in Mumbai in 2005 had killed over 500 people. (IANS)