As the ninth month of the Islamic calendar sets in, Muslims around the world celebrate Ramadan, the month when the Qur’an (holy book of Muslims) was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
The Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah (shrine) in Delhi is brightly lit for Ramadan- the holy month of fasting that is a time for contemplation, reflection and celebration for Muslims around the world.
Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and people of the faith must follow this cult along with the other pillars- prayer, charity and making the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
At this dargah, which is one of the most popular shrines of a Sufi Saint in the world, hundreds of Muslims gather to fulfil their holy obligation as their friends from other faiths join them in the celebrations.
As a man lights an agarbatti (incense stick) and its sweet fragrance passes through the crowd of hundreds, a calm vibe slips in the rush. Fragrance from flowers, that decorate the dargah and are being offered at it, further add to this serene sense.
A man is tying a dhaga or a holy thread and making a wish when the azan (call for namaz) is made. The congregation now gathers for offering the prayers, in which they stand and sit in harmony as they chant the name of Allah (god).
Namaz is offered five times a day, everyday, but during the Ramadan, the Isha (last namaz of the day) is followed by a feast.
Muslims break their fast by eating dates first and then drinking water. Post this they enjoy the lavish spread of iftar and feast themselves to lip-smacking kebabs and sweets.
Iftar is one of the two daily-meals taken by Muslims during their fasts. The other- suhoor– is taken before dawn.
At dusk, as many proceed to break their day’s fast, some continue with prayers or taraweeh that are additional prayers offered after Isha.
At the Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah, the day comes to an end on a joyous note, as the energy of the qawalli (Sufi Islamic devotional music) rings around.