Bandipora: Darul Uloom Raheemiya, Kashmir valley’s largest Islamic seminary at Bandipora, has been hosting about 1200 people for Aetkaaf this Ramadhan.
Aetkaaf is a ritual in which men shun contact with the society in the last 10 days of the holy month and pray in a secluded, designated part of a mosque during this time.
For the past several years now, people have been coming from various parts of the Valley for Aetkaf at the seminary.
“This grand Aetkaaf is a great source of happiness for the locals as it provides them an opportunity to serve the people,” said Mohammad Ramzan, a local.
About 150 local men comprise the volunteer force that serves the men performing Aetkaaf. Businessman Yasir Nabi has been volunteering for the past 11 years.
“Chief patron Moulana Rehmatullah Qasmi also contributes towards the volunteer service. People compete among themselves to serve those performing Aetkaaf,” a member of Raheemiya management said.
“All contributions for Aetkaafis come from Bandipora residents. Not a penny is spent from any other source. People performing Aetkaaf also contribute,” he added.
For these 1200 people and other residents of the seminary, about 700 tramees (huge copper plates on which food is served to four people) are served at both Sehri and Iftar.
The volunteers who make this feat happen are divided into small committees, each performing their own task, from cooking, washing, serving and providing medical aid.
By some estimates, about Rs 2.5 lakh are spent each day on food.
While some spread Dastar-Khwan, others distribute food items and beverages. Another set of volunteers collect and dispose of the leftovers so that the mosque is ready for the prayers. Meanwhile, other volunteers prepare the second floor for serving nun chai. The volunteers hardly sleep for a few hours.