For those of us who grew up in the 90’s, Rooh Afza was much more than just something you drank for iftar during Ramazan. There was just so much you could do with it, that and the fact that we didn’t have the endless options kids today have made this refreshing drink a staple for the 90’s era.
Whether it was a way for mothers to get their children to drink milk or our favourite flavour for homemade ice golas, there is no doubt that Rooh Afza will forever be regarded as the unofficial national drink of Pakistan. Interestingly the origin story of this rose infused drink is pretty out there.
Turns out this refreshing and cool drink was initially made to be a herbal syrup way back in 1906 in the busy streets of Mumbai by herbalist Hakim Abdul Majeed.
Obviously nowadays no one regards Rooh Afza as a medicine but it’s ingredients tell a different story with elements such as many healing herbs, fruits, vegetables and flower extracts. The drink is meant to be a sure fire cure for dehydration as it is full of revitalizing vitamins and minerals as well. Surprisingly, Pakistan and India are not alone in the love for this red elixir as it is currently exported to 27 countries and is especially revered in the UAE.
Especially in Pakistan, this soothing drink has a special significance in the holy month of Ramazan as it is not only a must in each and every household at the iftar table but is readily available at almost every eatery and restaurant with a dash of lemon juice to quench our day long thirst.
Now, it seems that the Hamdard label is set on competing with key players in the juice and beverage industry as they have announced the launch of a brand new carbonated drink variety of Rooh Afza called Rooh Afza Go. We know, we were as shocked as all of you probably are right now. The news is nothing short of unsettling and has us thinking. Is nothing sacred anymore?
The move was first announced via a promotional activity in collaboration with Pakistan International Airlines which will be the first to offer the fizzy version to passengers of the airline. What’s even more harrowing is that the new beverage comes in a can. Now, it might sound a little archaic and dated to say this, but why does it feel as if our entire childhood has been sold to the devil in order for thirsty companies to make more money?
We understand that the compact cans are a sign of the times; companies as ancient as Hamdard must catch up in order to compete, but it just feels wrong. It feels as if merely selling carbonated rose water and that too in a can defeats the 112 year old heritage and legacy of this time honoured drink.
The worst part is that Rooh Afzah Go is not currently available for public consumption as it is only available as a beverage option aboard all PIA flights. Who knows? Maybe we’ll learn to love this reboot of an already classic beverage. Maybe this is how the coming generations will come to relate with Rooh Afzah in hopes that it does not fade into oblivion the way Pakola did.