Bhopal As Ramzan, the annual Islamic fasting season began; markets in Bhopal have geared up with food delicacies of all types. Traditional food delicacies like dates and other traditional dishes are seen being sold the most in the markets.
Throughout the holy month of Ramzan, city markets have a lot of offer for Iftar. Apart from the regular biryanis, sheer kurma and firni, the one thing that has been a hot favourite are the different types of dates that are available during the holy month.
They include Maskadi, Iraq, Irani and Afgani among others. According to people in the city, the dates from Iraq and Saudi Arabia are most popular.
“The dates we produce in India cost about Rs 200 per kg. But the dates imported from Saudi and Iraq will cost about Rs 1000-1500 per kg. And people love it a lot,” said Majid Khan, a hawker at Jinsi.
Dates from Afganistan and Dubai have a lot of takers
Also the dates from Afganistan and Dubai have a lot of takers, informed a shopkeeper.
Shahin Khan, a housewife said, “A huge variety of dates are available in the market which we don’t get to see for the rest of the year.”
Apart from the dry fruits, sutar feni is another favourite. Special food stalls especially for the meat lovers, are put up during the season.
Rashida, a college student, says, “We all love to gorge on the wide variety of kebabs which are available. I personally love the seekh kebabs.”
Arshad, a lawyer shared, “You get the largest variety of kebabs only around this time. During the month of Ramzan we mostly have dinner outside unlike the rest of the year so we try to make the most of it.” Most suggest that one shouldn’t miss out on seekh kebabs, tandoori chicken and chicken chilli.
In Bhopal, community leaders and mosques around the city arrange for sehri (pre-dawn meal) and iftar (meal to break the day-long fast). Across the city, Muslims have been fasting each day for the entire month of Ramadan, abstaining from food and drink from dawn to dusk. That means around 15 hours without food, water, cigarettes or caffeine.
Ayaan Khan, who runs a grocery shop in Itwara are in Old Bhopal, said, “Fasting is aimed at drawing worshippers closer to Allah through self-control, remembrance and humility. The challenge of fasting for many is also a chance to reset spiritually and physically, kick bad habits and purify the heart.”
The Ramadan fast begins with a pre-dawn meal called “sehri” to prepare hungry stomachs for the long day ahead. A typical sehri often includes bread, vegetables, fruits, yogurt, tea, as well as lentils and beans.
At sunset, when it’s time to mark the end of the daylong fast, families and friends in Bhopal gather for an evening meal known as “iftar”.
Rashid Ahmad, a retired government employee who resides in TT Nagar area of the city, said: “Muslims wake up before sunrise, bathe and then eat something. This meal is called Sehri and it has foods like dates, milk, etc. to help them survive the day without food. They aren’t allowed to drink water during the day. The fast ends every day in the evening after sunset. This meal is called Iftar.”
Iftar parties are very popular in Bhopal and is a place to meet family and friends and have a feast with them.
Aksha Khan, a young housewife in Punjabi Bagh area, said: “There are all traditional food items during Iftar including biryani, kebabs, haleem, shorbas and more. Many non-Muslims also attend Iftar parties and enjoy a hearty meal. In Bhopal, there are several places where one can go to enjoy Iftar food during Ramzan.”
Zaid, who runs a bicycle repair shop in Pul Bogda, said: “Ramadan is more of an observance than a celebration as Muslims fast the entire day for a month. This fast is not an easy one as it involves not eating or drinking anything for long hours. Only those who are unable to fast due to health reasons are exempt from Ramadan fasting. Otherwise, according to Islam, all Muslims should observe it including kids after a certain age.”
Aslam Khan, a resident of Jawahar Chowk said: “During the entire month of Ramadan, Muslims in India and the world over abstain from worldly pleasures as this is a holy month. One of the significances of celebrating Ramadan is also to learn self-control. After the month of fasting ends, a grand feast takes places.”