here’s one pure drink in Pakistan that is more popular than Pepsi and besides being sweet, it’s healthy. Red in colour, soothing by nature and popular among all generations, it’s none other than Rooh Afza.
Similar to its name, it’s a soul refresher sugary summer drink. Or you can also call it “Summer Drink of the East” as it’s famous in all 3 biggest Asian countries; Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. Only in India, it churn a revenue of $134M annually. But what makes this drink so popular among millennials and baby boomers? Why do people still love it? What’s its history?
If you’re looking for the answers keep reading.
Origin of Rooh Afza
The journey of Rooh Afza started in 1907 at a small shop called Hamdard. The meaning of Hamdard is “a friend in your painful moments/sorrow)” and so is its product Rooh Afza. This small shop in Old Delhi was founded by a Unani medicine practitioner Hamid Abdul Majid. At that time, he has only one mission to serve that’s to relieve people from summer heat through organic herbs, and ingredients.
Considering the intolerable weather at that time, Abdul Majid wanted to invent something to beat the heat. He created a drink to help people combat fatigue and loss of energy due to excess heat. Fortunately, the drink sets true to its purpose and gets on its feet within a few months. This drink was called Rooh Afza.
The meaning of Rooh Afza is “soul-nourishment.” It comprises of two words Rooh which means ‘soul’ and Afza means “to lift.”
People loved it at that time and soon after its launch 100 bottles were sold within a few hours. Following it, the demand for Rooh Afza increased with time. But then the partition happened and it becomes divided.
Hamid Abul Majid has two sons. After the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Majid’s younger son Hakeem Muhammad Said moved to Pakistan and started making Rooh Afza in a rented two-room space. While the elder son remained in India to help his father. Muhammed Said established Rooh Afza’s first plant in Karachi, Pakistan and later in Bangladesh. Since that day, it has become a major household drink in the South Asian subcontinent. In 1980, Dr Mohammed Yousuf Harun Bhuiyan took the responsibility for the Bangladeshi Branch.
Rabia Begum, wife of Hamid Abdul Majid stood with him in all his tough times. His wife and his sister gave him all the support to make Hamdard successful. On his wife’s wish, he dedicated the Hamdard Laboratories fund for educational scholarships and medical care to needy patients.
The popular sherbet has more than five substantial manufacturing units. Everything from distilling to capping and labelling the Rooh Afza bottles is done through machines following the best hygienic practices.
Rooh Afza Ingredients
The summer coolant is therapeutic. It’s made out of extracts from rose, kevda, carrot, spinach, and wine-soaked raisins. It was designed to beat the heat and people during the partition rely on this drink to relax. It’s also effective in boosting the immune system and also to get out of sluggishness.
The drink shares a vibrant history in both India and Pakistan. When there was a Rooh Afza crisis in India, it was Pakistan that sent the drink to India. Overall the drink is a culmination of fruits, herbs, vegetables, and flowers. That’s why it also has some major health benefits such as:
- Positive effects on cardiovascular functions.
- Helps in overcoming dehydration.
- Increases the energy level and makes you active.
Rooh Afza Ads
Despite being the therapeutic and the most selling drink in the 90s, the company never leave their foot in the marketing.
This was the first ad of Rooh Afza.
Another one that shows the impact of Rooh Afza.
Later the company also signed Juhi Chawla for an ad promotion.
And till date, you will find many ad campaigns for Hamdard for its red staple syrup. Some of the famous campaigns include #FreshnesskaDoubleDose, GhulkeJiyo, Go Greedy, Lalach ek Kala Hai, and a few others.
With a rich history, a strong part of culture and tradition, and popularity the syrup is here to stay.
It’s not only a drink but also used in other recipes like Falooda, Rooh Afza Lassi, Custard, Kheer, Juices, Milkshakes, or even fruit salads.
The impact of this popular drink not only remains in the East but is also popular in the West.
In Ramadan, the iftar dastarkhuwan is incomplete without Rooh Afza. Soon after breaking the fast, people love to have this chilled drink to quench their thirst.
Seeing its popularity, some companies also made copies like Jaam-e-Shirin, and Rose Syrup but no drink matches its massive history, background, and health benefits.
The drink is now 115 years old and its legacy isn’t going to end anytime soon.
I prefer books and diaries more than phones and Facebook. Soulfully connected to Pakistan. And I passionately believe that I can change the world through blogging.