Eid in HyderabadFarah has been shopping frantically for about a week from the 'Mecca of all shopping hubs' - Old Hyderabad. When I last met her, she told me that she would invite me home during Ramzan.
During the holy month of Ramzan, every road leads you to shops and eating joints around Charminar! Prayers go on past midnight, the Madina X roads to Charminar roar with traffic, prices of all commodities sky-rockets but that is not enough to dampen the spirit of Hyderabadis!
Laad bazaar, Patel market, Gulzar Houz, area around Charminar, and Madina...all choicest bazaars for buying new clothes, jewellery, 'attar' (perfume), glass bangles...the malls can wait as these 'bazaars' cater to various sections of people.
Farah always calls me up after a shopping spree and here I was attentively picking up her phone call!
''Hey Farah, What did you buy?'' I enquired.
The loud voice of my friend was brimming with joy. She was anxiously waiting to talk to me - her best friend!''
I will display all my goodies when you come home. For now, just listen to me.'' she retorted.
''Yes, indeed''! I was all ears. After all, she always got a thoughtful gift for me too.
''O.K.'', Farah exclaimed from the other end on the phone. ''Guess what! I bought dates for breaking my fast (roza) after sunset; fruits, garments bangles and footwear. A surprise gift for you too!''
''Thank you, Farah, see you soon'', I blurted out happily.
My friend had been busy the whole month. She was getting up early hearing the siren from the nearby mosque and had pre-dawn meals (sahr). After a couple of hours, on the call of 'Muezzin' (one who calls for prayers), her father and brother walked to the mosque wearing skull caps to offer special prayers or 'Namaz-e-Taraveeh'. In the mosque, the 'Maulvi' or Quazi' recited excerpts from the Holy Koran (or Quran). They also prayed in the afternoons and in the evenings. Every evening, after sunset, they broke their day long fast with water and dates and recited night prayers.
I have known about Ramzan from Farah. Most congregated mosque during prayers is Mecca Masjid near Charminar. However, this Ramzan is special as it is the first one we are celebrating after the formation of Telangana. Great arrangements are made by the government - Muslim government employees are allowed to leave an hour early from office, people enjoy continuous power supply at night, hotels and shops remain open throughout the night and security arrangements are flawless.
Although Muslims constitute 40% of the population in Hyderabad, the entire city is celebrating-- because Bonalu - the state festival of Telangana too falls during this time. This is joy doubled!
This 9th month (Oct-Nov.) in the Muslim lunar calendar holds great significance as this is when the Holy Quran was divulged to Prophet Mohammad.
''Let us go to Farah's house,'' I told my sister. My younger sister wanted me to tell her something more about Ramzan.
''Alright dear'', I continued, ''Ramzan is not only about prayers, fasting and shopping. It is also about charity and cleansing the mind of undesired and negative thoughts. It is about leading a more fulfilling life, bonding with people, practicing self-control and empathy.
''But why is fasting important?'' enquired my little sister.
''Well'', I said, ''Fasting alleviates patience and compassion for the poor and needy.''
By this time we were ready to leave for Farah's house. She had prepared 'haleem' and 'biryani'. Nutritious haleem was prepared using meat, wheat, gram, pulses curd etc. We were here to enjoy an Iftar party at Farah's house.
As the elderly, sick and children are exempted from fasting, Farah's grandfather was lying on his bed and relaxing. Farah had kept a surprise gift ready for me. She had bought a beautiful dress for me! I delightfully presented her colourful bangles and pearls I had bought for her from the 'Ramzan Shopping Festival' at Exhibition Grounds at Nampally.
Ramzan celebrations will give way to Eid-ul-Fitr or Eid on 1st of 'Shawaal' and 10th lunar month of the Islamic calendar, which will mark the end of Ramzan or Ramadan. However, the enthusiasm lives on! The air will reverberate with 'Eid Mubarak', friends will bring each other gifts and money (eidie) and hug each other with love.
Hydrabadi Biryani, Sevaiyyan, Sheerkhurma, Sahur (snacks, desserts) add to the flavour of celebrations. But as I told you earlier, it is also about reaching to the needy by distributing 'zakat' or even remembering your departed near and dear ones.
Every year, the duration of Ramzan changes as Islamic calendar is lunar. And after all the joyous moments we spent at Farah's house, we waved each other goodbye with the promise to meet at Eid this week! The celebrations continue...
Sanchita Pandey from Jharkhand shares her experience of Eid celebrations in Hyderabad with her friend