J-K: With drop in militancy, volunteers revive age-old Ramzan practice

Doda (Jammu and Kashmir) [India] Jun 4 : After a gap of over two decades, a group of people in Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district have revived the practice of sehar khawani- a ritual to help Muslims wake up for preparing sehri (pre-dawn meal) in the holy month of Ramzan. As per locals, rising bigotry and torture by militants had forced them to end the practice owing to restrictions in the movement of residents at night, thereby forcing them to keep their month-long celebrations of Ramzan low-key for about 30 years. However, with the end of militancy and return of peace in this hilly district of Jammu and Kashmir, some volunteers have restarted 'sehar khawani' this year. The credit for making this culture alive goes to a group of men who have revived this traditional and important ritual which was last seen in 1992. Speaking to ANI, one of the main volunteers, Naseer Ahmed Khora said, "We took a pledge to not let our old ritual fade. It was important for the youth here to know the significance of this ritual. People thank us for waking them up, even though they have gadgets." "It is an old ritual and stopped due to militancy. Thankfully to Allah, it is back into practice. We are very happy now," said Ishtiaq Dev, another volunteer. 'Sehar Khwans' or the volunteers, can be seen carrying portable loudspeakers, moving down the streets, reciting Quranic verses and Naat in the wee hours. Faizan Ali, another volunteer, revealed that Sehar Khawans first consume their pre-dawn meals and then wake others up. "We wake up at 1:00 am and go around the streets of old Doda Town, reciting Quran Verses. It takes almost an hour to reach every nook and corner of the locality," he said. Besides this, another group of young men has started serving sehri and Iftar to poor and needy people in Doda town on a daily basis. It is also served to the people in the district hospital of Doda to hundreds of attendants of patients and other people.
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