Withstanding heat in the holy month

SOME RESPITE A man ties the temporary tent for the Friday prayers at the Jama Masjid

SOME RESPITE A man ties the temporary tent for the Friday prayers at the Jama Masjid   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

This Ramzan has come as a simmering test for the faithful

Old Delhi’s bustling Meena Bazar, located between Jama Masjid and Dariba Kalan is thronging with people during the month of Ramzan. Its aromas attract all. Mohammad Shamshad, 30, owns a small, make-shift artificial jewellery shop in the centre of the market. His family has been running the business for 50 years. He is the eldest son in a family of eight. In the city’s sweltering and unforgiving heat, he is busy shouting out to passersby, asking them to take a look at what his shop has to offer. He is also fasting today. “Sab Allah ki rehmat hai,” he replies when asked how he manages to work empty stomach under the sun.

Muslims in Delhi are steeling themselves for the toughest Ramzan in more than three decades. At Jama Masjid, one could see people putting up a shamiana so that the faithful could have some respite while offering namaaz. People are spending more time in ablution, perhaps to stay in touch with water.

The test of self-restraint only gets tougher with temperature easily climbing above 45 degrees and frequent power cuts. Fasting for 14 hours straight, no food, no water can be a challenge. One realises Ramzan means “scorching heat” or “vehemently heated by the sun”. To withstand the heat, Shamshad wakes up at 2 a.m., drinks lots of water and has his pre-dawn meal (suhur).

Irshad Ahmed is 87 years old. Despite his old age and physical weakness, he is a regular attendee of Fajr prayers and doesn’t fail to be present at the mosque before Adhān. During the day, he sells dates from his small corner stall on the streets of Chandni Chowk.

Kabir Ahmed is a 50-year-old rickshaw puller in the Paharganj area of Delhi. He wakes up at 3 a.m., has his meal, sends his children to school and goes to work. “Kaam to karna padega,” he says while struggling to get customers. He is taking the heat in stride. Recalling the first time he had kept fast, he said he had thought thirst would be his greatest challenge but then came the hunger pangs which were unbearable.

Passing through the by lanes of the narrow market, one can’t help but get enticed by the aroma of the freshly flame-grilled boti kababs enveloping the whole place. You can put the blame on Mohammad Waheed, a young man, who is meticulously cooking the meat. His kabab shop, right in front of the east gate of Jama Masjid has been in the same place for eight years. While preparing a plate of succulent beef for his customers, he complains about the unavailability and rising prices of meat. It’s almost time for the iftar meal and his friends have gathered around his shop. They make a few jokes, talk about politics and get ready to break their fast

In the last eight years, Mohammad Waheed and his tiny food stall have seen a lot change in the area. “I have lived in Chandni Chowk all my life. I have seen my friends’ shops being taken down and new shops taking their place,” he says.

Resisting temptation

Naseem Bano is a mother of five who lives in a small, cracking building in the narrow lanes of Daryaganj. She wakes up before her children, cooks food, does her chores and goes to work as a waitress in a tiny restaurant in Chandni Chowk. “I do feel hungry while serving food in the restaurant,” she confesses. “It’s a bit of a challenge. There is food in front of me and nobody around,” she says with resignation. “I can do it without anybody see me eating. At the same time, I am controlling my desires. I am obeying God, even when there is nobody around.”

Business wise

The sellers of the Quran and janamaz (prayer mat) like Mohammad Zakir are quite happy with the sales. Mohammad Zakir says, “ I am grateful to Allah for always keeping an eye on me and blessing me.” On the other hand Mubin Malik a seller of ittar (scent) says, “It is non-profitable business as people are busy with ibadat.”

During Ramzan, date is the most purchased dry-fruit. People are often seen breaking their fast by only eating date. Meanwhile, a date seller, Mahendar Yadav is beaming in the heat. “ Dates are the most commonly purchased item by the people, who keep fast. It is mostly profitable because people buy and store them for a month at least.”

(With inputs by Ashutosh Mishra)

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 5:41:21 AM |

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