Bengaluru: Lockdown set to take sheen off of Ramzan

Bengaluru: Coronavirus lockdown set to take sheen off of Ramzan

No yummy affair

The Ramzan food draws one and all. DH FILE PHOTO

N Somanna eagerly awaits the arrival of Ramzan each year. More than the spiritual aspect, it’s the gastronomical delights and the shopping deals unique to the sacred Muslim month that excite him. 

For the retired Bescom executive engineer, Ramzan is the perfect time to bond with his long-time friend Zafer Mohiuddin, a professional architect who’s known more for his dialogues in ‘Malgudi Days’ and directing plays on Mirza Ghalib and Tipu Sultan. Together, the sexagenarians go to Bengaluru’s famed food streets to indulge in Haleem, Seekh Kebab, Firni and whatnot!

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After cricket and Bollywood, Ramzan food is arguably what binds Hindus and Muslims together. But this Ramzan will be different. 

As COVID-19 turns our lives upside down, Ramzan would be shorn of its famed raunaq (splendour). The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when Muslims fast from dawn unto dusk and offer special prayers at night, begins on Saturday. This means the first 10 days will be spent under the lockdown. And it’s anybody’s guess if life would be the same after the lockdown. 

No one is sure if the food streets of Mosque Road (Fraser Town), Shivajinagar, KR Market, Bannerghatta Road and Kammanahalli would come alive this Ramzan. And no one can hazard a guess if the city's mosques would reverberate with Quranic recitations and see the faithful show up five times a day anytime soon. 

Muslim scholars and community leaders have asked the faithful to pray the obligatory and Taraweeh prayers at home. Ramzan is also the time when Muslims do a lot of charity. This may change, too. 

"We may not like it, but the lockdown is necessary for the greater good of society," says Mohiuddin. "We all must stay at home and stay safe."  

Other cities will also miss the charm of Ramzan. Hyderabad, where the lip-smacking eponymous Haleem originated, will not be the same. Restaurants have reportedly decided against setting up Haleem bhattis (earthen furnaces). 

In Mumbai, Mohammed Ali Road, Nagpada, Bhendi Bazaar, Minara Masjid, Bohari Mohalla and Dongri dazzle with lights and are filled with the aroma of food. 

"It was a happening place and it is a happening place," says veteran journalist Aejaz Ahmed Ansari. "What makes the place interesting is that it suits everybody’s pocket." 

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"Mumbai will miss the charm of Ramzan," says veteran writer and political analyst Prakash Akolkar, a regular visitor. 

In Kashmir, where lockdowns aren't new, people never stopped offering Taraweeh at mosques in the past. "I'm afraid we won’t be able to pray Taraweeh at mosques," Umar Bhat, a businessman from Srinagar, told DH. "If the lockdown continues, we won't be able to observe Shab-i-Qadr in mosques and at shrines." 

In Delhi, the centre of Ramzan celebrations is the iconic Jama Masjid, which is known for food joints. All restaurants and mosques in Delhi have been closed since March 13. 

In Lucknow, the erstwhile capital of the Nawabs of Awadh, Ramzan will be a lot different this time, especially in the walled city localities known for their delicious Awadhi cuisines such as 'biryani' and 'nihari kulcha'. 

(With inputs from Prasad Nichenametla in Hyderabad, Mrityunjay Bose in Mumbai, Zulfikar Majid in Srinagar, Shemin Joy in Delhi and Sanjay Pandey in Lucknow)