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HomeIndiaPakistani Hamdard offers to help overcome India’s RoohAfza shortage during Ramzan

Pakistani Hamdard offers to help overcome India’s RoohAfza shortage during Ramzan

In response to ThePrint’s report on RoohAfza being off the market, chief of Hamdard Laboratories Waqf Pakistan offers to supply it through Wagah border.

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New Delhi: There may be some respite for Indian Muslims fasting in the holy month of Ramzan after all, if the government of India allows it.

In response to ThePrint’s report about the popular drink RoohAfza being off the market during Ramzan, the head of Hamdard Laboratories Waqf Pakistan has offered to supply it to India through the Wagah border.

The offer was made a few hours after the report was published Tuesday. The report revealed why the sherbet, manufactured by India’s Hamdard Laboratories, had gone off the market.

Breaking the fast in the evening (called iftar) with RoohAfza has been a tradition among many Muslims in India, especially in the north.

Usama Qureshi, MD and CEO of Pakistani Hamdard, tweeted: “We can supply RoohAfza and RoohAfzaGO to India during this Ramzan. We can easily send trucks through Wahga (sic) border if permitted by Indian Government.”

In another tweet, he mentioned how Pakistani Hamdard, the company that manufactures the drink is growing by leaps and bounds.

RoohAfza has been off the market in India for four to five months now, and is not available at online stores as well. While Hamdard did not put out any official word about it, it did try blaming the stopping of production on shortage of “raw material”.

Shared ancestry

The two Hamdards have common ancestry — the original was founded by Unani medicine practitioner Hakeem Hafiz Abdul Majeed in old Delhi in the early 1900s, while the one in Pakistan was founded by his son Hakeem Mohammed Said, who migrated after Partition, in 1948.

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Follow: @puranidilliwaley The Partition of Rooh Afza: Established in 1906 by Hakeem Abdul Majeed, Hamdard (meaning "Sympathizer") was a Yunani medicine shop in Delhi's Lal Kuan Bazaar. Around 1907-1908, Hakeem Majeed launched a non alcohoalic medicinal concentrate called 'Rooh Afza' (Soul Enhancer) to combat Delhi's hot loo winds. Packaged in glass bottles with the iconic label by Delhi artist Mirza Noor Ahmad, Rooh Afza contained a perfect mix of fruits, vegetables, herbs and roots all infused in a sugar syrup. It is said that the first consumers were so mesmerized by the taste of this ambrosial drink that over a hundred bottles were sold in a few hours. What started as a medicinal drink became popular as a delicious summer drink all over Delhi. To meet the rising demands, Hakeem Abdul Majeed started to mass produce Rooh Afza at a factory in Ghaziabad, just outside Delhi. Soon this drink became one of the most iconic delicacies of Delhi along with Nihari and Bedami poori. By 1947, Rooh Afza was found in every kitchen in Delhi and most of the places in the United Provinces. With the September riots of 1947, Delhi's Muslims started to flee their homes and started to take refuge in the refugee camps built in Purana Qila and Jama Masjid. Many families were torn apart, as one part opted for Pakistan and the other chose to stay behind. Hamdard was no exception. In 1948, one part of the Hamdard family headed by Said migrated to Karachi in the new state of Pakistan. Hamdard Pakistan was started from scratch in a two room rented space. The magic of Rooh Afza worked, and in no time Hamdard Pakistan became very successful. The creation of Bangladesh in 1971 resulted in a final partition when Hamdard Pakistan gave birth to Hamdard Bangladesh. Courtesy: @thesingingsingh #puranidilliwaley #1947partition #olddelhi #delhiarchives #britishlibrary #roohafza #beverages #foodporn #stories

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This latter entity has been an indirect beneficiary of the legal dispute raging over the control of Hamdard in India, between the current Chief Mutawalli (equivalent of CEO) Abdul Majeed and his cousin Hammad Ahmed, who claims rightful inheritance.

Sales of the Pakistani RoohAfza have shot up, though it’s not readily available in stores. The imported version is selling for over Rs 375 a bottle, as against Rs 145 for the one manufactured in Ghaziabad.

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