First Covid-19 then rain affects ‘Sabeels’

Now Reading:

First Covid-19 then rain affects ‘Sabeels’

First Covid-19 then rain affects ‘Sabeels’

This tradition of Muharram has started fading out since the first outbreak of the pandemic

There was a time when one could see Sabeels, small cubicles serving food, water and milk, set up by neighbourhood boys in every nook and corner of the city. But this tradition of Muharram has started fading out since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. This year also very few Sabeels can be spotted probably because of persistent rains.

During the good old days, one could see young boys with buckets and coolers full of milk and red sherbet, standing behind a desk in the makeshift kiosk offering glasses to every passerby.

“The rain drove them away,” says an old man, mockingly, when asked if he was from the area and if he knew why the boys were not minding their little decorated stall of free beverages. Maybe they couldn’t collect the donations that they usually did each year this time around, he added.

The old man also added, “These kids are real devils when asking for a donation for their Sabeels. They are so persistent. But this time most of the people they approached, including myself, told them to forget about it because of the rain,” he smiles. “Still, they are not backing off. They still intend to go ahead with their annual activities here,” he shrugs.


Muslims all over the world observe the beginning of the first Islamic month remembering the great sacrifice by the Prophet’s grandson Hazrat Imam Hussain (A.S.) and his family. These ten days of Muharram are marked by mourning Ahlul Bayt (the Prophet’s family) besides helping and feeding the poor.

Sabeels made of small cubicles are erected to serve water, food, milk, and sherbet in remembrance of the sufferings of Ahlul Bayt who were forced to live without water.

The literal meaning of the word ‘Sabeel’ in Arabic is ‘Way’. Hazrat Imam Hussain (A.S.) and his family were deprived of water for five days before the battle of Karbala, but they braved those difficult days in the way of Allah. Those who set up Sabeels believe that it is a way to pay tribute to the thirst bore by the Imam (A.S.) and his family, by providing water and other kinds of drinks to everyone during the first ten days of Muharram.

Sabeel is regarded as a signature Moharram activity now. A variety of drinks are usually available at different Sabeels, in different parts of the city, ranging from plain water to traditional beverages, chilled milk flavoured with nuts and cardamom, and multiple types of tea. Such stalls can be seen on platforms and pathways at different points along the routes of the Moharram processions. Many of these are also set up on trolleys and move along with people.

To set up a Sabeel, young boys raise funds from the elders of the locality. One of the young fellows tells how they had brought all their decorations from the wholesale paper market on Hassan Ali Effendi Road around August 14. “We had built our Sabeel structure and were about to decorate but it started raining heavily. Then we attempted again the next day, which was better weather-wise. But whatever work we did was ruined on the following day. So we have decided not to waste time with the dedications anymore. We will just start serving from wherever we have built already,” he adds, glancing at his watch then he waves a hurried goodbye before going inside the building.

The tradition of Sabeel is very old and since then there has been very little or no change at all in the Muharram routine. For 10 days in running Sabeels set up in the city to offer milk-based chilled sherbets (sweet drinks) to every passerby irrespective of his faith and belief. The mix is often interesting and the taste, always heavenly.


Each day, the Sabeel organisers try to make something different, the RoohAfza-based milk sherbet is an all-time favourite. Then they have the almond, banana, mango pulp and Lassi. Nowadays they are trying to mix ice-cream soda in milk and hope people will love it.

With the sultry and humid weather of Karachi scaling to legendary heights, these coolers, sprinkled with chopped nuts and often dashed with basil seeds, are a refreshing treat for the Karachiites who willingly accept it to quench their thirst.

photos: athar khan/Bol News

Sabeels are erected to serve sherbet in remembrance of the sufferings of Ahlul Bayt who were forced to live without water


Catch all the Breaking News Event and Latest News Updates on The BOL News

Download The BOL News App to get the Daily News Update & Live News.

End of Article
More Newspaper Articles
IJP construction delays
The ruling elite
Through the lens of art
Tourism in the era of terrorism
Park rape case takes a dramatic turn
Crushing the common man

Next Story

How Would You Like to Open this News?

How Would You Like to Open this News?

Would you like me to read the next story for you. Master?