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Malik Ayub Sumbal is Senior Broadcaster, Political Commentator, and Media Consultant. Malik has been associated with world-leading media outlets and news channels. He has more than 18 years of experience while working on key editorial positions. Malik was President at the Consortium for Press Freedom (CPF), a leading organization working for the Press Freedom and Free Speech around the world.
Where traditional drumbeats still mark time for suhour

Where traditional drumbeats still mark time for suhour

Country’s cuisine during Ramadan is famous, unique due to its taste and variety

The clock says 3am. But it’s not the alarm that wakes you up for suhour in Pakistan. The sound of drums does.

It’s a tradition that is being kept alive by dedicated drum beaters who venture out during early hours of the morning to wake up people for the meal before the morning prayers and the subsequent day’s fast.

In Rawalpindi, Mohammad Ahmad Khan’s family has been beating the Ramadan drum for the last three generations. His father and grandfather used to do it before him.

Ahmad Khan says he voluntarily does this service as a goodwill gesture for fellow residents. “There is no need [to beat drums] as everyone has an alarm on their clocks. But it’s our family tradition, which I want to keep alive. I inherited this talent from my father and grandfather,” Ahmad Khan told Gulf News. He says: “As Ramadan begins, it comes with a great pleasure for me. Even when the Ramadan moon is sighted I start beating the drum at my home, it’s a way of welcoming Ramadan.”

Ahmad Khan doesn’t sleep the entire night as he is up from midnight and then starts moving into the streets. He is used to beating the drum for several hours.

‘Powerful message’

Drum beating during suhour is also convenient for people as they get up through this traditional alarm.

Azam Khalid, a resident of satellite town in Rawalpindi says, “In the drum’s tempo, we can feel the spirit of Ramadan, it gives us a very powerful message to wake up and there is no risk that any one will remain sleeping during suhour.”

He adds: “Since we were kids, ChaCha [uncle] Ahmad Khan has been beating the drum during Ramadan, we all know him well. Sometimes I demand [he plays a] rhythmic beat but it’s just due to my frankness with Ahmad Khan.”

Ramadan cuisine

Ahmad Khan says people give him honorarium according to their own desire. He doesn’t demand anything from anyone but most give happily before Eid.

“They give me Eidi before Eid, I don’t demand [payment] from anyone, it’s their one desire to give me as a reward for waking them up during the whole month of Ramadan.” Ahmad says. From Ramdan moonsighting to Eid moon, Ahmad is kept busy beating drums. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Ramadan traditional cuisine is also famous and unique due to its taste and variety.

There are extraordinary arrangements for suhour and iftar in the country and everyone looks forward to his or her desired food. Some foods are staples in every home at Ramadan. Pakoras, samosas, fruit chat and dahi bhallas are among the hot favourites for Pakistanis. Numerous restaurants and kiosks offer a variety of traditional Pakistani foods during Ramadan. Long queues of food lovers can be seen, as people wait for their turn to buy their favourite meals.

In Islamabad, the capital city, various bakeries set up exclusive counters for their customers. In Jinnah Super, one of Islamabad’s biggest markets, Ijaz Ali visited with her family to buy supplies for iftar.

“We love pakoras and samosas, so I came here to buy with my children and family,” he said. We also cook at home but sometimes buy outside as this place is famous for their taste in pakoras and samosas, I am No. 78 in the queue so have to wait for next 30 minutes.”

Ramadan is in full swing in Pakistan and, like in other Muslim countries, the month is being celebrated with religious zest and zeal.

However, one thing which differentiates Pakistan from the other countries is the vast traditional food, which is hot and mostly spicy.

Malik Ayub Sumbal is an Award-Winning journalist, Geopolitical Analyst, Commentator & Moderator. He is the author of his newly published book Tovuz to Karabakh, A Comprehensive Analysis of War in South-Caucasus. He tweet @ayubsumbal