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41-Rooh Afazaa

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41-Rooh Afazaa
From the site of Rooh Afza

History of Rooh Afza, popular in India, Paakistaan and Banglaadesh produced by the three Hamdard organizations.
From the Bangladesh Hamdard web-site.

It All began in 1907

The reason why Rooh Afza remains the world's first ever syrup of the common man is that never before was a syrup presented to the people which combined visual beauty with the essence and virtues of other traditional syrups. No effort was spared and no consideration given to the huge expenses involved by the founder of Hamdard in the preparation of a syrup processing such a host of qualities. He focused his attention on giving to the public only that which was of a very high standard.

The matchless qualities and merits of Rooh Afza soon brought it to the notice of the people. By its distinctive taste, fragrance and color it began, not only to attract the common people , but also inspired the writers and poets to make it a theme of their creative efforts. The following verses of Sa'il Dehlvi (given here in their English transliteration) started appearing in Urdu not only in the advertisements of Rooh Afza but also on the wrapper of its bottle.

Jo rang dekho to dilrubaa hai,
Mazaa jo chakkho to jaan fizaa hai;
Mahak mein phoolon se bhi ziyaadah.
Asar mein iksir-e-be bahaa hai;

Jo is mein tafareeh-o-taquiyaat hai,
Na us ki ghayat, na intihaa hai;
Na rooh afza sa koee sharbat,
Kabhee banegaa na ban chukaa hai;
--sa'il dhlavi (an eminent Indian poet)

Sharbat Rooh Afza was introduced in 1907, and was included in the first list of drugs of Hamdard in 1908. According to the alphabetical order, it occurs against item No. 293. The qualities attributed to it at that time were mainly medicinal. The reason is obvious.

The founder of Hamdard, Hakim Abul Majid (May his soul be blessed) was led to this formula by his intuitive faculty. No other formula could surpass it is excellence, range and efficacy in those days. The almost 102 year old history of Rooh Afza is also a pointer to the fact that no better formula has yet been evolved.

In 1907, there were syrups of individual fruits or purely herbal syrups or syrups made with the juices of sweet-smelling flowers such as Rose and Kevadaa. The founder of Hamdard managed to integrate all these three categories in the formula of Rooh Afza in a very striking manner. He chose from among the drugs only such as Tukhm-e-khurfa (Portulaca oleracea Seeds) Tukhm-e-kasni (Cichorium intybus Seeds), Munaqqaa (Vitis vinifera), Chhareelaa (Permelia perlata), Neelofer (Nymphaea nauchali), Gaozaban (Borago officinalis), Haraa Dhaniyaa (Coriandrum stivum green leaves), Hara Ghiyaa (Lagenaria vulgaris) etc. which possessed wholly medicinal properties and from among the fruits his discerning eyes fell on such fruits as orange, pineapple, carrot and watermelon, which contained, higher medicinal qualities. He displayed a novelty by including in the formula some vegetables such as Paalak (spinach), Podeenaa (mint) and Hara Ghiyaa, Besides Rose and Kevadaa, the traditional flowers of the time, the use of flowers of juicy fruits like lemon and orange, roots like Khas with subtle aroma, and sweet-smelling woods like sandal can be described as providential selectivity.

No modification has taken place in the original formula of Rooh Afza as yet. But its processing has been receiving modifications and improvements according to the present scientific techniques. For instance, distilled extracts of drugs, fruits of Rooh Afza from the very inception. This extract did not include the proteins, salts, vitamins and essential elements of the ingredients. Now, after experiments over long periods, the extracts of fruits, vegetables and drugs constituting Rooh Afza are prepared in such a manner that all these important nutritive and medicinal properties with such essential ingredients are obtained totally without affecting color, aroma, flavor, etc. rather its taste now has become much better. The increase in the efficacy of Rooh Afza from medical and health points of view through these modifications and improvements is now becoming manifest and substantiated from the research papers of those five scholars who were offered awards. The various medical and health benefits enumerated in the very first advertisement of Rooh Afza in 1908 are now being confirmed by science in its own language. It is hoped that this that this never-ending process of research will continue with the same zeal and Rooh Afza will maintain its high standing in the future also.

The Name - Rooh Afza

It has not been found out yet how the founder of Hamdard came upon the name 'Rooh Afza'. Some think that this name is the product of his mind. Others express the view that it came from some book of ancient myths and legends. Of such books, one is very famous, the Masanavi Gulzar-e-Naseem which was first published around 1254 Hijaree. In this book, the name of a character is `Rooh Afza' who, according to the writer , was the daughter of Muzaffar Shaah, the king of Firdaus (Heaven).

'Rooh Afza' was also the name of a weekly, which used to be published from Jaunpur (UP) in 1882.

The Label of Rooh Afza

Mirza Noor Ahamad, an artist, prepared some beautiful labels of Rooh Afza in several colors in 1910. Such colorful prints could not be had in Dehlee at that time. It was therefore printed by special arrangement by the Bolton Press of the Paarsees of Bombay. The said artist has died only fifteen years back (circa 1996). It is the same family of artists which has recently succeeded in achieving the composing of Urdu Language through computer.

The Bottles and Packing of Rooh Afza

When Rooh Afza was introduced, no arrangement existed for special bottles for drugs or marketable syrups. Used bottles of wines of any size, color and shape which could be available were used for syrups. Rooh Afza is the first Sharbat for which the white bottles of uniform size (750 ml) and almost of the same shape, which were called `pole' bottles, were obtained. The price was obviously very high and they had to be collected in off-season. Rooh Afza is the very first Sharbat which was presented in beautifully printed wrapper of butter-paper. Beautiful bottle in such beautiful packing has been another distinctive feature of Rooh Afza. Production by the millions has done away with the wrapper, but the familiar bottle of Rooh Afza and other special features still stand.

The First Maker of Rooh Afza

Hakim Ustad Hasan Khan, the first maker of Rooh Afza, was a resident of Sahaaranpur (UP), but he had come to stay in Delhi for a very long time. He now lives in Karaachee (now in Pakistan) and is, at the age of over a hundred years, the custodian of the history of Rooh Afza. Going over the pages of his diaries, he recalls the past. The early stages of the preparation of Rooh Afza are vivid before him.

New Avenues of Rooh Afza's Popularity

Rooh Afza has found new avenues of popularity which would be difficult to visualizes. Some people use it for a variety of drinks to entertain their families and friends, while others use Rooh Afza in preparing novel dishes to satisfy their own palates as well as to win many a person. Physicians have used Rooh Afza in the past, as they do even now, to treat various ailments. Scientists and research scholars have been applying their mind to a study of Rooh Afza.

Research, as you all know, is an unending process, and Rooh Afza will also remain a subject of research in the future, revealing its matchless properties through new techniques of scientific study. It shall be the endeavor of Hamdard to keep up its 102 year old tradition of revealing the scientific facts about Rooh Afza in conformity with new trends in research methodology.

One more reason for the popularity of Rooh Afza is literary. This aspect has kept pace with Rooh Afza from the very beginning. The verses of Sa'il Dehlvi were used not only in the advertisements of Rooh Afza, but also in its packing material. These verses were quoted at the outset. There was a time when every new advertisement of Rooh Afza gave the verses of some well-known poet every day which provided entertainment to those having literary taste and also proved a means of literary education to the public at large. It would be appropriate to reproduce the verses of a few select poets for the delectation of this audience:

"Ishaaraa us nigaah kaa Rooh Afza ho naheen sakataa
Ki jaadoogar se ejaaze maseehaa ho naheen sakataa"
--Dag Dehlvi

"Seemab bhee hai aaj qaim-un-nar,
Hamdard ki hai ye meharbaanee"
--Seemab Akbarabadi

Saaqee khaas ko mijaaze dariyaa de de,
Piyasaa hoon bahut jauhar-e-meenaa de de,
Haan us late jan'bakhsh ki khushoo ki kasam,
Hamdard kaa jam-d-Rooh Afza de de"
--Josh Malihabadi

Rooh Afza has now become a dictionary word. Take for example Muhazabul-lughat (Vol. VI, p. 116, Lucknow, 1986); "Rooh Afza. That which refreshes a famous drink prepared by Hamdard Dawakhana, Delhi."

Frequently Imitated ... But Never Equaled in Taste and Quality

No other Sharbat or drug of the world has seen as much imitation as Rooh Afza. While the Calandestine producers left no stone unturned in copying Rooh Afza, the latter was no less alert in its defense. In the history of the Trade Mark, the case which was decided by Lahore High Court in 1927 in favor of Rooh Afza against a spurious producer is always cited as a reference. On the basis of its own qualities, Rooh Afza has been able to protect its interest more than the law. This fact has been repeatedly referred to in its history. The copiers of Rooh Afza do manages to copy its appearance, but they are unable to make the same elaborate arrangements and processing on which Hamdard spends lavishly. They can copy the bottle, the label, the color, the taste, the smell and the design of the advertisements, but they have always been incapable of imitating its quality and efficacy. Now when Rooh Afza has entered into the era of scientific research, the imitators will face greater difficulty. In a few years, its emergence into the computer age is inevitable.



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Created by Sushma Gupta On May 27, 2001
Modified on 06/10/13