My schooling and growing days has been quite close with my Muslim friends. As we were staying very near to a Muslim locality, close to a mosque, and Madrasa. Second, my job in the Middle East countries. These two digressed environments had given me quite an insight of Ramzan. I still remember Abu Baux uncle of Suthahat (a locality in Cuttack) explaining the values of Ramzan. But when I was in Doha – I came across a new terminology – “Ramadan Kareem” popular among the neo elite Muslims. This was basically the Saudi influence and the petro-dollar influence which travelled across the world with the expatriate from the ‘80s.
In the contemporary times fuelled by social media platforms – Ramzan/Ramadan has totally taken a different approach. It has taken commercial dimensions, with super markets / malls coming with special aisles, marketing & advertisement honchos coming with campaigns, special sales and offers for ‘Eid’. The COVID 19, lockdown has bought a sudden stop to this extravaganza this year. What and how the next ‘Eid’ is going to be nobody knows.
Sepia Tone (flash back) of Ramzan
The simplicity of ‘Rozas’ without much hype of ‘Eid’ was what we enjoyed. The sighting of the moon was eagerly waited for the goodies to come in after the month of Ramzan fasting – ‘Eid’. Its approach as always was televised by Delhi Doordarshan – when Salma Sultana, with her dimpled smile announcing the sight of the moon.
During the special month: alarms would be set, people would get up (or be woken up by harassed parents), eat simple ‘sehri’, (fasting during Ramzan includes ‘sehri’ and ‘iftar’; sehri is a pre-dawn meal, – which includes dates, fruits, milk and sweet vermicelli is consumed early in the morning before the ‘fajr’ prayer and go back to sleep and then proceed to their respective offices, schools and colleges. In the evenings, the family would gather for an extensive iftar – (people observe fast for the whole day and break it with iftar, with dates) followed by an ample dinner where one or two family favourites would invariably be cooked. Today every one of them are having a normal routine while fasting and making time for prayers which they used to follow.
Normalcy of Ramzan which seemed lost is back with its purpose. Foods are prepared and sent to the mosques for the ‘Imams’ and spiritual leaders. Foods are shared with the neighbours, friends and occasionally invited for the ‘Iftar’. This is the very heart of Ramzan sharing of foods with strangers and family.
Now we observe food packets of daily needs are given to those at the fringes of acute poverty- the widows, the local vendors whose business has come to a grinding stop, out of work auto drivers, persons living in dire straits. This is what we had seen with S Zaullah of Buxi Bazar and other affluent families doing it. This is back which we had seen. The normalcy which we see today without any hype or grand gesture of piety is remarkable today.
By: Satyanarayan Mohapatra
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