Sahar Khan back in action in Ramazan

SANA ALTAF. Dated: 7/25/2012 1:17:23 AM

SRINAGAR, July 24: Yet again, like every other year Sahar Khan has made appearance on the streets of Kashmir-in old city, uptown, rural and urban streets. All through the month of Ramadan, he breaks the eerie silence of the dark night with his drum and wake up calls to stir people out of the bed for Suhoor.
Sahar Khan has survived for generations in the Valley even as Kashmir has lost several imperial parts of its tradition and culture. The credit for the survival of Sahar Khan is not for the people, but the Sahar Khans, who-sometimes driven by poverty, other times by motivation to preserve culture; kept the tradition alive.
After a break of over six years, Mohammad Afzal resumed being Sahar Khan in his area of Tral. The motive behind was to keep the culture of decades alive in the Valley.
“The tradition of Sahar Khan is very old in Kashmir. It received a break during peak years of turmoil in 90’s. But now fortunately it is back on track,” said Afzal, during his day long visit to Srinagar. Afzal supports his family of four through farming for rest part of the year.
He worked as Sahar Khan from the age of 20, after his father quit the practice.
“When turmoil started, I could not dare moving out at night which halted the practice.”
He says after six years of break, he decided to resume his fathers practice to keep it alive
“It is an old practice which should be kept alive. It is with these thoughts that I am ‘Sahar Khan’ today.”
The month of Ramadan is happiest for Abdul Kareem as it not only brings blessing but augments his income too. Working as a manual labour in other parts of the year fails to feed well six family members of Kareem, forcing him for the job of Sahar Khan.
"I wish Ramadan comes twice a year, my family income could go better,” says middle aged Kareem from Kupwara.
Kareem is new to being Sahar Khan, with only three years of experience.
“No one from my family has been Sahar Khan. Poverty made me seek alternate means of income."
Every Ramadan, Kareem leaves his home, travels to Srinagar as Sahar Khan.
“It fetches me good money and blessing too.”
Besides, the uniqueness in prayers, food habits and daily routine during this month, Sahar Khan makes Ramadan more distinctive for Kashmir. Without the resonating drum beats and calls of Sahar Khan, Ramadan is incomplete in the Valley.



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