Over 100 years of RoohAfza: Drink which survived partition now faces shortage crisis

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Published: May 8, 2019 5:03:16 PM

RoohAfza took birth in the streets of Old Delhi with Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed, an Unani medicinal practitioner, setting up ‘Hamdard'.

RoohAfza, the 100-year-old brand, is facing a supply crisis in the peak summer season.

The rose-coloured drink RoohAfza, a popular drink which has been quenching thirst in north India’s sweltering heat for over 100 years now, has captured the fascination of writers, journalists, chefs alike for its unmatched taste. Launched in 1907, well before India and Pakistan became two nations, the drink has maintained its iconic taste throughout more than a century of its existence.

Recently, India’s Hamdard, which makes RoohAfza, faced a shortage in supplies of the popular drink owing to the lesser availability of herbs that are required in the composition of RoohAfza, ET reported. RoohAfza is trending on Twitter lately because of a report by ThePrint which said that the market is facing an acute shortage of RoohAfza.

However, the company has started the manufacture of the popular drink in full swing and said that the situation is getting better as the product has started to become available. Replying to a message by Pakistan’s Hamdard, which had offered to send RoohAfza bottles to India as a goodwill gesture around the Ramzaan, India’s Hamdard ensured the availability of RoohAfza.

A 113-year old history

RoohAfza took birth in the streets of Old Delhi with Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed, an Unani medicinal practitioner, setting up ‘Hamdard’, a move that was in line with his belief that people should be benefitted by the secret knowledge that Unani practitioners inculcated. RoohAfza was then launched a year after the set up of Hamdard in 1906. After Hakim Hafiz Abdul’s sudden demise in 1922, his wife and his child Abdul Hameed started overseeing the business. The company was later split in two between Abdul Hameed and Mohammed Said with Hameed choosing to stay in India post-partition as the brothers didn’t want one side of the border to be deprived of their father’s legacy.

RoohAfza is an Urdu name which translates to ‘Quencher of Soul’. The drink gained instant popularity upon launch because of the natural ingredients that the company uses in the manufacturing of RoohAfza. Amid many artificial products that reign the market today, RoohAfza is a herbal, natural concoction that is popular not just on either side of the border but also on the other side of the globe. The drink has featured in food magazines such as the US-based Saveur, which called it “Heavenly Elixir”.

In popular culture

RoohAfza’s journey from a tonic to a popular drink and then the trying times that the company faced because of partition, also got a mention in Arundhati Roy’s 2017 Booker Award shortlist book ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’. Arundhati Roy also describes the slow take over of the market by global player Coca-Cola and other drinks in the 90s.

Hamdard also markets Safi, Roghan Badam Shirin, Arq Gulab and Sualin.

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