Why the air smells of attar in Ramadan

Why the air smells of attar in Ramadan

Srinagar: The traditional ones have grown rarer and dearer, but modern varieties of ‘attar’ are as much in demand during the month of holy Ramadan i n Kashmir. The applying of perfume, of which attar is the traditional kind in Islamic culture, is considered ‘Sunnah’ (Prophetic deed) during Ramadan.
Many shopkeepers and attar vendors in Srinagar have set up their stalls outside mosques and shrines. Their perfumes are made from aromatic chemicals, not flowers as the traditional attar are.
Abdul Wasay, owner of Aligarh Attar House in Maisuma Srinagar, said Ramadan was an amazing time for selling different kinds of attar. He said people in Kashmir were quite faithful about applying attar as Sunnah.
“This is why its sale suddenly increases during Ramadan,” he said.
Wasay has decorated his shop with scent bottles in attractive glasses and forms. He said attar sold in this one month of Ramadan is more than what is sold in three months.
“I sell different kinds of attar to small shopkeepers and vendors also, due to its demand. But, we are not selling the traditionally made oil-based scents, as they are very expensive and most of the people can’t afford them,” he said.
In other parts of the city, perfume sellers are making merry as their sales have increased manifold with the onset of Ramadan.
The popular fragrances in demand are Gulab, Chameli, Nargis, Musk, Chocolate, Banana, Kashmiri Apple, and Kesar (Saffron).
Some faithful consumers still look for traditionally made fragrances, but these are usually exported to foreign countries.
“There are some manufacturers in Kashmir which deal in natural attars. But they usually send the consignments to outside Jammu and Kashmir,” said trader Muhammad Akram of Zaina Kadal.
He said people usually prefer light smells, and perfume makers keep that in mind during the mixing process.
“We don’t use any alcohol in the scent as it is prohibited in Islam,” Akram said.
Muslims cannot use any other perfumes except ‘attar’ because of the alcoholic content in most of them, which is a religious prohibition, as per the Holy Quran.
Akram said that the sale of attar increases 90 percent in Ramadan. “I consider it as a blessing in this holy month,” he said.
Attar, often referred to as the perfume of kings and queens, is a distillate of flowers and herbs prepared on a base of sandalwood oil or other natural oil which is capable of absorbing aroma.