Home Indian Muslim Old Delhi gears up for Ramadan

Old Delhi gears up for Ramadan


New Delhi : With Ramadan beginning in India on Friday, shops and eateries in Muslim-dominated areas like the walled city are decked up for the nightlong bustle through the holy Muslim month as the devout throng the area – with the fragrance of ittar permeating the atmosphere.

The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan or Ramzan, is an Islamic religious observance when the Quran was revealed. In this month, Muslims observe daylong fasts, from dawn to dusk.

“During Ramadan, the nights come alive with hustle-bustle and a lot of activity. Before sunrise, people wake up and have a small meal and then recite a short prayer. Men go to the mosques for the early morning namaz (prayer) as well,” said Salma Rahman, who has been observing the fasts every year with devotion.

“During the course of the day, we don’t eat even a morsel of food or drink a drop of water. Only after sunset do we break our fasts, again with a short prayer and thereafter feast on a variety of dishes,” she said.

Generally, fasts are broken by eating a date, following the tradition set by Prophet Mohammad.

In areas surrounding the Jama Masjid, the eating joints get flooded before sunrise with customers who come to have an early breakfast, and then go for their morning namaz (prayers) to the mosque.

The Iftar, or the meal which people have after sunset when they break their fasts with a prayer, is elaborate and lavish.

The fragrance of seekh kababs, degchis (huge vessels) of nahari and paaya (tender trotters that are simmered all night in their own juices and mouth watering masalas) and bowls of thick pudding emanating from the tiny restaurants dotting the place invite the devout to have their iftar there.

“It’s not just fasting that Muslims are expected to observe during Ramadan. They are also supposed to be more observant of the teachings of Islam, practice generosity towards the less fortunate, refrain from anger, greed, lust and lies, and read the holy Quran,” said Mohammad Anwar.

“The idea behind the month-long fasts is to redirect the heart from worldly activities, cleanse the soul and bring an inner peace and calm,” he said.

The word ‘Ramadan’ is derived from an Arabic word meaning intense heat, scorched ground, and shortness of rations. It is considered the most venerated, blessed and spiritually beneficial month of the Islamic year.

Prayers, sawm (fasting), charity, and self-accountability are especially stressed at this time.

The festival of Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next month, after the sighting of the new moon.