This article first appeared on our partner site, Independent Urdu
Two years of the coronavirus pandemic have changed the lives of people around the world, including the way in which they marked their festivals. This was the experience the Muslim community in India had of Ramadan in lockdown, but the situation is slowly returning to normal.
The Muslim community in Old Delhi’s Ballimaran and Matia Mahal districts are celebrating Ramadan together and the atmosphere is remarkably convivial. The area was made famous by the renowned poet Mirza Ghalib, who lived there in the early 19th century. He mentions the place many times in his letters.
Fazl-ur-Rehman Qureshi, a resident of Delhi, says that unlike the last two years, this Ramadan people are once again turning their focus to pleasing Allah by offering prayers. Once again, the markets are full of people and the bazaar is doing well.
Speaking to Independent Urdu, he noted: “The way Ramadan is celebrated in Old Delhi is very famous. People around the world fast for 16 to 20 hours but in Old Delhi our fasts are at most five hours. This is because we stay up all night, go to bed in the morning and offer Zuhr prayers in the afternoon. We break our fast in a unique way around four hours after Asr prayers.
"In the evenings, we feel Allah’s mercy is upon us because the bazaar becomes full of people," he added.
Muhammad Salman, owner of “Qureshi Kebab” in Old Delhi, noted that Ramadan is a month of blessings and is celebrated here in different ways. He says he offers a variety of dishes to the customers at reasonable prices. “It’s busier here than anywhere else," he added.
"Everything is lovely here because it is the month of Ramadan and everyone looks forward to the evenings," said Inato, a foreign tourist who was on a two-week visit to Delhi with his mother.
Aziz-ur-Rehman, who runs his family’s centuries-old shop, says things are back on track and business is booming again.
"People have been out of work due to the lockdown and the pandemic has taken their livelihoods from them. This has caused an economic crisis in the country."
Muhammad Shaan, who runs his grandfather’s 80-year-old food stall in Old Delhi, noted: “The food on offer for those keeping the fast is considered a special gift of the holy month. If you come by, you can see the crowds well into the night”.
Translated by Tooba Ali, reviewed by Celine Assaf