In India, following the moon sighting reports from different parts, the Imam of Jama Masjid mosque, in Old Delhi, Ahmed Bukhari announced, Tuesday June 7, 2016, the first day of Ramzan, as Ramadan is called in India. In this month, of prayers and supplication, Indian Muslims, as hundreds of millions of Muslims all around the world, fast dawn-to-dusk and remain absorbed in devotion. But the way they prepare spiritually and their night celebration, in New Delhi and around India, remains unique.
In this month Muslims fast to be closer to God and understand the sufferings of less fortunate ones. Muslims involve themselves in charity and spend most of their time in mosques, reciting Quran “the holy book of Muslims” to spiritually purify themselves.
The “taraweeh” special evening prayers
Almost in ever mosque around India, there are special arrangements of the evening prayers, known as “taraweeh,” In New Delhi, people even open up their houses for “taraweeh” and arrange a “hafiz” (“one who remembers the whole Quran”) to listen to Qirat (Recitation of Quran).
Muslims follow a lunar calendar and a moon-sighting methodology lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart. In Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Singapore, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, new moon of Ramadan was spotted Sunday and these countries marked the Ramadan on Monday, as opposed to Tusday for India.
After fasting, a unique Indian food treats
In this month Muslims around India abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. Even a single sip of water or a puff of a cigarette is enough to invalidate the fast. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.
Before sunrise, Muslims take the food called “Sahar” and do not consume anything till the sunsets. Muslims traditionally break their fast with a sip of water and some dates at sunset called “iftar”.
In India, “iftar” is celebrated in a lavish way, at a special social event wherein different recipes are being prepared. There are salty treats such as Haleem (made of wheat, barley, meat, lentils and spices, and sometimes also rice) or various types of roasted chicken ; and many sweets, like Kheer (a milk pudding), Seviyan (toasted vermicelli pudding). The streets of New Delhi, particularly the Jama Masjid area of Old Delhi, welcome then a delicious mixture of aromas especially at the time of “Sahar” and “Iftar”.
Many mosques have a special arrangement for “iftar” which is also sometimes a way to gather the whole Indian Joint Family or the community. Besides that, the food stalls and hawkers provide with a whole world of food options.
After a month long fasting and long prayers, Muslims end the Ramzan by celebrating a three-day holiday called Eid Al-Fitr. It is a special occasion to spend some nice time in a Muslim neighborhood in any city of India and simply share the moment and the great sense of hospitality.