Srinagar: In the holy month of Ramdhan, dates locally known as “Khezir” are consumed in large quantities by Muslims in the valley. After fasting for the entire day, Muslims across the world break their fast with dates, which is considered as Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Dates are available at almost every grocery store and shop during the month of Ramdhan. Many shopkeepers including street vendors switch to selling dates during this month because of their high demand.
Dates are imported to the valley from different parts of the world, mainly from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria Palestine, etc.
Different types of dates generally sell in Kashmir including both high-range and low-range, mainly Ajwa, Mabroom, Kalmi, Sudayi, Sukhri, Amber, and Medjool. Dealers say that high-end dates are fetching relatively higher demands.
“I sell almost 5 tons of different variety of dates every day which fetches me 12-15 lakh rupees a day. The rates vary from Rs 90 to Rs 1050 per kg,” says Haroon Ahmad Rather owner of Dara Fruits at Fruit Mandi in Parimpora in the north of Srinagar.
“The season is better than the last two seasons. We have been able to see a good amount of sales this year after the COVID-19 outbreak. During the peak of the pandemic half of our stock remained unsold, but Alhamdullilah this year the business is going fine,” said Haroon.
“Nowadays people are aware of different varieties of dates and ask for imported dates of Saudi Arabia, especially Ajwah, Medjol, etc and all of these varieties are available in the market, we buy dates from Mumbai, Gujrat, Kerala,” he added.
He further said that imported dates are in trend for the last 6-7 years, as people would earlier only buy two types of dates either dry dates or wet dates.
Another dealer Mohammad Aqib (22) of Taqwa Traders at Parimpora Fruit Mandi said that they sold 8000 boxes of dates, weighing five kilograms each, at the beginning of Ramdhan. “We sell dates for the whole year but during the month of Ramdhan dates remain in high demand,” said Aqib.
Kashmiri people consume dates worth crores of rupees during the month of Ramdhan. Each year almost 150 tons of dates of different qualities are sold during the entire month depending on the demand in the market.
“We are mainly 30-40 dealers who sell dates in a large quantity in Kashmir and every one of us sells almost 4-5 tons of dates every day, worth 5 crores approximately. Thus making date selling the most demanding trade for this month,” says Farooq Ahmad a shopkeeper at the Fruit Mandi Parimpora.
The consumption of dates is high during Ramdhan throughout the Islamic world and Kashmir is very much part of this tradition.