Drums of tradition

Drums of tradition

Iqbal from Jaipur busy making drums in Mangalore.

Here we are going to meet a person who literally needs the heading very badly. Muhammad Iqbal Shaque is a regular visitor to the coastal city for the last 18 years. Iqbal, a drum maker who hails from Jaipur is continuing his families’ 100-year-old business, for the last 30 years. Iqbal is traveling all over India with his drums every year. His brother Takla Shaque is also assisting him in his travel.

“We travel from Kashmir to Kanyakumari every year for about 10 months, selling and repairing drums, and take rest for about two months,” said Iqbal and added that they visit almost all temples and tourist places on their route. It varies from marriage season in North India to pilgrim season in Sabarimala of South. “During marriages, festivals like Ganesh Chathurthi, Dasara, Shivrathri, we are able to sell more number of drums.” Drums have more demand among the foreign tourists. They give Rs 400 to Rs 500 per drum.

During the tourist season, we will travel to beaches in Goa and Trivandrum. Each place Iqbal will stay for 15 days to two months, making drums. Day time he will go to different houses and market to sell them and during evenings he repairs and makes new drums.In Mangalore, Iqbal is staying opposite to the Muthappan Temple near Central Railway Station and sleeps on the footpath at nights. “Rooms are very costly. This is very much comfortable,” winks Iqbal.

When asked about the sales in Mangalore, he said that he could sell a minimum 10 to 20 drums. “Some days I could sell 30 drums per day besides repairing about 20 drums. However, there are days when I could not sell even a single drum. All depends on His grace,” Iqbal looks up and smiles.

Making of drum

Iqbal takes only 10 minutes to prepare a drum. The body of the drum is made up of hard and thick cardboard/ plywood of cylindrical shape and he uses goat’s skin to make the drum. Then he pastes grease inside the drum to make the sound more rhythmic. Once it is done, the skin is pasted to the cardboard with glue. The drum ready!

Each drum costs around Rs 75 to R 100 depending upon its size. The customers include children, temples and shops. Shop keepers buy it whole sale. The only complaint he has is that people bargain too much and many a times are reluctant to pay even the actual money. To a query on why he is continuing this profession, he said, “I know only this profession. My father and grand father eked out their living by making and selling drums. Tomorrow my children too will continue this profession.”

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