May 12, 2021, 4:08 p.m. by Dr Gayatri Mohapatra ( 472 views)
If the crescent Moon is sighted tonight, then the Gulf countries will be celebrating their Holy festival on May 12, 2021, and if not, then on May 13. Saudi Arabia follows the Umm al-Qura calendar and Eid-al-Fitr marks the first day of the Shawwal month.
The Covid pandemic has turned all our lives upside down in such a chaotic manner & everything is so blurry at the moment, that this year's Ramadan is nearing an end very quietly, without the usual buzz which surrounds it.
Night of Ramadan In old Delhi
The sacred month of Ramadan began on April 12 this year with Muslims observing fast for 30 days.
There are five pillars of Islam, and fasting is known as the fifth pillar of Islam. Ramadan will conclude on May 13 in India and Muslims will bid this holy month goodbye by celebrating Eid.
The first Eid al-Fitr was celebrated in 624 CE by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions after their victory in the battle of Jang-e-Badar, a turning point in Muhammad's struggle.
Eid al-Fitr is also known as 'Feast of the Lesser Bairam, Bairam being a Turkic word for the holiday. It may seem odd that the word lesser is used for such a widely celebrated festival, the reason is that the 'Greater Bairam' is Eid al-Adha, the other great Islamic festival which is seen as the holier of the two.
During Ramadan, Muslims offer prayers five times a day and keep a fast in which they consume only two meals. The fast in this month is known as Roza, and the meals which are consumed in Roza are known as Sehri and Iftar. The meals which are consumed in the pre-dawn are known as Sehri and the meal which is consumed at dusk is known as Iftar. The timings of Iftar and Sehri are different from city to city.
At sunset, Muslims break their fast and people gather together with friends and family members in a unique cultural practice of bonding over food, before the night prayer of taraveeh.
Muslims have been trying to make the holy month meaningful in different ways, in spite of the pandemic constraints.
With people locked inside their houses during the coronavirus outbreak, get-togethers and evening Iftar parties have taken on a virtual avatar along with zoom prayers & live streaming from mosques.
For many non-Muslim food enthusiasts like me, thanks to the online food delivery services, special iftar delicacies like Kebabs, fruit salad, haleem, samosas, double Ka meetha, koftas, Kormas & biryani, can be ordered and eaten in the safety and comfort of our homes. While the packaging of the food packets can't be faulted somehow the ethos of the iftar is lost. There's something about embracing friends, eating together, being together and upholding traditions.
Double Ka meetha,Seviyan
More so, I miss those days in Delhi, when every year my family made a trip to Chandni Chowk during Ramadan to watch the frenzy in the walled city, which becomes a deluge of street-side vendors, restaurants, and, kebab outlets! Lazeez kebabs, aromatic biryanis, spicy niharis, double ka meetha, seviyan, phalsa sherbet & Pyar Mohabbat sherbet to tantalise the taste buds amidst the swarming crowds in the narrow lanes of old Delhi!
The metro rail just shortened the distance across Delhi, and during Ramzan and walking from the metro station to the Jamma Masjid can truly be an unforgettable experience on each visit as we waded our way to the legendary Karim's to eat the mutton stew, burrah kebabs & Raan.
After a soul-satisfying meal, we would invariably buy the freshly baked warm, buttery crumbly rusks & nankhatais from the innumerable small bakeries in old Delhi, drink the Mohabbat Ka sherbet & catch the metro home.
The Nizamuddin Dargah is the masoleum of the Sufi saint Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya and Amir Khusrau's tomb along with the tomb of the princess Jahannara's is also Situated in the complex in Nizamuddin West, along Mathura Road. Surrounded by a lively market dominated by Muslim vendors this area has been a hub for cultural activities in Delhi since the 13th century, The Humayun's Tomb and Sunder Nursery, a 16th-century heritage park, tombs of Mirza Ghalib and Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana which are closeby also add to its cultural significance.
During the holy month of Ramzan, langars take the form of Iftar and are held every day. People from all walks of life, without any discrimination, are invited to join and partake in the feast and enjoy the quawalis at the durgah!
One of my favourite A.R Rahman song, "Kun Faya Kun", a song in the 2011 Hindi movie Rockstar is also shot at the dargah, featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Nizami Bandhu, the traditional qawwal of the dargah.
The Nizamuddin Dargah, which is entrenched with the mystical tradition of Sufism, opens its arms to one and all and celebrates the holy month of Ramadan with much fanfare but today, I can only look back with nostalgia and wonder whether we will ever go back to reliving our lives as before.
However, there is a silver lining with Salman Khan Films announcing the release of "Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai" on Eid.
Salman who is also the producer of the film said he wanted to keep his commitment to his fans & give some joy to them on Eid. Salman Khan has a special connection with Eid over the years.
I liked this positive & magnanimous spirit of the superstar, but I doubt Covid protocols will bring back the era of clapping, cheering, whistling, and the ‘house-full’ boards Salman Khan’s movies are known for and Chandni Chowk, Ballimaran and the iconic Janna Masjid which was earlier decked with breathtaking decorations and humming with vibrating energy will remain deserted & empty.
These are tough times for everyone but this blessed month teaches us to have patience & discipline amongst other things. Humanity has overcome great challenges in the past, and we will find ways to overcome this challenge, too."Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”