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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

Next Story

World Class Zoo Worth Rs 500 Cr to Come Up in Mumbai

The proposed site in Aarey Milk Colony was inspected by a CZA team in 2014 which recently gave its clearance

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World, Zoo, Mumbai
The zoo, estimated to cost around Rs 500 crore. Pixabay

An ultra-modern zoo of global standards, spread across 100 acres, is expected to come up in the lush green environs in the suburban Goregaon in Maharashtra, officials said here on Wednesday.

The zoo, estimated to cost around Rs 500 crore, will have a host of unseen wild animals, trails and jungle safaris, nature education centre, a separate breeding centre and other facilities as per guidelines of Central Zoo Authority (CZA).

The proposed site in Aarey Milk Colony was inspected by a CZA team in 2014 which recently gave its clearance, and the new zoo will be virtually adjacent to two tourism centres like the famed Film City and nearby the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).

On Wednesday, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Maharashtra Forest Department and BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) whereby 100 acres of the 190-acre government land will be given for setting up the zoo.

World, Zoo, Mumbai
An ultra-modern zoo of global standards, spread across 100 acres, is expected to come up in the lush green environs in the suburban Goregaon in Maharashtra. Pixabay

The BMC will soon appoint a project management consultant and prepare a comprehensive master plan for the zoo which will be executed from its own resources. However, the net revenues shall be shared by the civic body and the forest department.

The MoU documents were signed and exchanged in the presence of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray and Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar.

As per the MoU, the forest department will provide technical expertise in procuring various animals for the zoo and other facilities which would showcase the rich biodiversity of the state and the country.

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Since there is no space to expand the existing 50-acre zoo in Byculla, an alternative site inside the Aarey Milk Colony was explored. (IANS)