Old Delhi gears up for month of fasting and feasting

By Mohd Asim Khan

New Delhi : As the sun went down behind the majestic dome of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, the lights came on, illuminating the whole mosque in its glory. The colourful lights, forming the silhouette of the historical Masjid, added to its grandeur.

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Soon after the Maghrib prayer, the siren blared, indicating the sighting of the moon and heralding the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.

Illuminated with mercury lamps and their wares decorated with ‘waraq’ — silver films, the kiosk wallahs just add to the raunaq (roughly, attraction or illumination) of the bazaar.

“The month of Ramadan is about compassion and righteousness. It is the month when people have been advised to feed the hungry, have mercy on their servants and the poor and become pious and righteous through fasting,” Mufti Mohammed Mukarram Ahmad, the imam of Shahi Masjid Fatehpuri, told IANS.

The restaurants and eateries display banners and placards announcing their special preparations for Ramadan.

“Hamare yahan iftaar se sehri tak nihari ka maqool intezam hai (We have proper arrangement of nihari from iftaar up to sehri)” is a line frequently seen on banners outside eateries at Jama Masjid, Churi Walan, Ballimaran and Bara Hindu Rao — all Muslim-dominated localities and known for their super-delicious food.

Restaurants like Karim’s and Al-Jawahar offer some special preparations for ‘Iftaar’, including ‘nihari’, ‘paaye’, ‘biryani’, ‘mutton barra’ and ‘kheer’.

Muslims fast during the day and eat only after sunset in Ramadan. The fast begins at the crack of dawn and lasts till sunset. This year, roughly the fast would start at 3:45 in the morning and would continue till 7:30 in the evening.

“It would be tough, given the scorching heat and long hours, but so it was last year. I observed all the fasts last year, so would I do this year, insha Allah,” said Mohammed Safi, a young architect who lives in Matia Mahal locality.

“We alter our working schedule accordingly. We work mostly through the night after Isha prayers and rest during the day,” said Mohd Faisal, a businessman dealing in handicraft items at Turkman Gate.