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Fasting, Feasting and Festivities of Ramzan, India’s Ramadan.
Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Ramzan or Ramadan ?

It’s an ongoing debate – what should one call the most important festival for more than 20% of the world’s population – ‘Ramzan’ or ‘Ramadan’? As with any debate, there are strong supporters for both versions. However, once the opinions are analysed, it seems that both variations are right.

Ramazan happens to be the pronunciation of people who speak Urdu and hence popular in India and Pakistan, amongst other places. ‘Ramadan’ is closer to the Arabic pronunciation, although even Ramadan or Ramadhan or not the exact transliterations for the actual Arabic sound. So yes, when you are in India for a holiday around Ramadan, don’t be surprised to hear a different version.

Ramzan Fasting rules

Fasting begins 20 minutes prior to dawn and ends right at sundown. The rule of fasting applies only to able-bodied adults, thereby exempting from the rule – children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, menstruating women, travellers, the elderly, the mentally infirm and physically ill as well.

If you thought fasting for an entire month is tough, it’s actually not the most testing part though. Proper observation of a Ramadan fast includes not drinking water or any liquids all through the day. Observing this rule when Ramadan fasting time happens to be during hot summer months (it varies every year) can be the ultimate test for the faithful.

Other rules during Ramzan 

Apart from fasting, there are numerous other rules to follow in order to cleanse the mind, body and soul. These include abstaining from sex, smoking and even lying.

Praying five times each day (Salat) becomes even more important during this time.

Ramzan Feasting

The daily fasts begin and end with a meal. The pre-dawn meal is called Suhūr. But the more visible and popular meal happens to be Iftar, the nutrient-rich meal consumed after sunset. It’s a time for friends and family to break the fast together and also invite people over for “Iftar parties”.

The fast is broken with a drink of milk, water and sweet dates, following the Prophet Mohammed’s teachings. Then the feast commences usually with a fare including Biriyani, Haleem, Kebabs, stuffed vegetables and an array of drinks and desserts including malpua, seasonal fruits, firni and the delectable Kunafa, if you are particularly lucky.

Haleem is one of the dishes that is exclusively made during Ramadan; it’s a filling and high energy meal in the form of a single dish. Haleem is prepared overnight slow-cooking meat, a variety of lentils and masalas together. Dry fruits are also added in some variations. It’s designed to give instant energy and to be easily digestible. Do taste it if you are in India during the Ramadan period. The meat is usually beef, but there are lamb and chicken versions too, if that is a concern.

Haleem

Image courtesy: Shuebtitan via Wikimedia Commons

Where to eat Ramzan special dishes

Bangalore – Head straight to Mosque road (Frazer town) for delectable Iftar treats, however if you are unable to go there you can head to your nearest mosque, as roadside stalls selling such delights pop up outside most mosques during this time.

Delhi – The capital becomes a food lover’s paradise during this month as you can find not one, but multiple eateries serving up delectable dishes during Ramadan. Some of the most famous food joints include Karim’s at Hazrat Nizamuddin, Jama Masjid’s Al Jawahar, Chandni Chowk’s parathewaligali and kebabwali gali. Delhi’s Chandni chowk becomes especially colourful during this time, not to mention acquiring the ability to break the strictest of diets! The fastest way to get to Chandni chowk is Delhi metro. If you are staying closer to South Delhi and prefer more upscale eateries, there’s the all-time expat favorite, Khan market.

Lucknow – Famous for its Biriyani and Kebabs, if you are in the city you must visit Tunday Kababi for their Galouti Kebabs (located in Cinema road Aminabad) while Haji Sahib will provide you with your fill of Kulcha and mouth-watering Nihari. Akbari Gate is particularly famous for such treats during the holy month. You can also round-up the experience by buying some gorgeous lucknowi-chikan garments.
Kochi – In Kochi Ramadan food festivals are usually organized by holiday inns and hotels like the Marriott, however in any city where there is a mosque, food stalls selling Ramadan feasts can be found outside them.

Best Shopping Bazaar

While each city comes up with its own exciting shopping bazaars and markets during the month of Ramadan, perhaps the most famous is that of Hyderabad, especially the night bazaar near Charminar, which is particularly opened for Ramadan. The aroma of ‘Attar’ comes wafting through the bazaar, as you make your way to the Chudi shops, of course there are food stalls all around for it is impossible to shop the night away without nibbling on some Bhutta and buying Sevaiyan for home. It is an extremely vibrant and lively experience, a must do for all lucky to be in the city during the holy month.

Colorful, sparkly Lac Bangles of Hyderabad. A must-buy!

Image credit: Hyderabad Bangles by Kamal Venkit /Creative Commons

Etiquette tips for Ramzan 

If you have a friend or colleague who is observing the Ramadan fast, these tips might be useful for you. At the core of Ramadan etiquette tips, all you have to do is be sensible and sensitive. This does not mean that you should not eat your lunch or breakfast if you are in the company of someone who is observing the practice, but you shouldn’t push them to “just have a bite” of whatever you are eating as well. In an office setting, lunch-rooms usually preempt such issues. But try and not tempt your friend with evening snacks when they are right at the most difficult part of their fast. Additionally, since you know they are fasting, it would also be considerate on your part to try and not impose brunch or lunch meetings with someone who is fasting, or ask them out for activities which require strenuous physical exertion.

Eid-Ul-Fitr

Eid-Ul-Fitr or breaking of the fast is the feast which officially ends the month of fasting. The religious Eid celebration is a single day during which the Muslims are not allowed to fast. The holiday celebrates the close of the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan month whence they fasted from dawn-to-sunset.

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Visiting India to celebrate Eid? We have monsoon special discount offers for Kerala and Andamans.

 


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The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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