As the month of fasting Ramzan begins, a favourite drink which is missing from the shelves in the market is herbal summer drink Rooh Afza. Hamdard, the manufacturer of Rooh Afza, has, in fact, stalled its production in the last four-five months over what is believed to be a legal dispute between the owners.
Rooh Afza, a concoction of fruits, herbs and vegetables mixed in a sugary syrup, has a special place in North Indian families especially among Muslims since it is consumed mostly during summer months to beat the heat. In Ramzan, Rooh Afza is used by a majority of the Muslim households to break the fast at dusk and has become synonymous with Iftaar (fast-breaking).
But a family dispute between Hamdard founder's son Hakeem Abdul Majeed and his nephew over the control of the company has apparently stalled the production of Rooh Afza. Although the employees working at Hamdard told The Print that the production will be resumed shortly, the fasting Muslims are missing the drink during Ramzan the most.
Many people took to Twitter to express their dismay and tagged Hamdard asking why the drink has gone off the shelves in the first place. Hamdard soon took to Facebook said that it is overwhelmed by the love expressed by so many people who are missing the iconic drink and will be soon back on the market shelves.
Rooh Afza makers in Pakistan offer to help?
As Twitter exploded with posts of Rooh Afza missing in India, its makers in Pakistan offered to transport the drink across the Wagah border subject to the approval by the Narendra Modi government. The MD and CEO of Hamdard, Pakistan, Usama Qureshi, announced on Twitter that they are ready to transport truckloads of Rooh Afza across the Wagah border.
He also took the opportunity to explain how post-partition, the brand Rooh Afza has become a household name in Pakistan and has grown both in terms of profitability as well as production. Qureshi said that they have also launched a carbonated version of Rooh Afza called Rooh Afza Go in Pakistan.
A century-old legacy of Rooh Afza
What began as a humble practice by Unani medicine practitioner Hakeem Abdul Majeed in Old Delhi to offer alternative medicine to people, Rooh Afza soon became a popular non-alcoholic drink among people in north India, particularly during extreme summers. Post partition, Majeed's son Said migrated to Karachi and established his own version of Hamdard group there and re-launched Rooh Afza using the same ingredients that his father did. Thus in India, Pakistan and even in Bangladesh, Rooh Afza became a common link and a part of the food culture.