A night at Jama Masjid

The sight of over 100 people breaking fast together, is perhaps, not unusual for those who frequent Jama Masjid during the month of Ramzan. But it turned out to be a mesmerising evening Metrolife had the opportunity to be part of. From a distance, it seemed, the boundaries of the sandstone facade of Jama Masjid had extended a few more kilometres from all sides. 

The Maghreb prayer offered around 7.20 pm had just got over and so had iftar. But people were continuing to stream in at the masjid. The adults were neatly seated on the ground, the crowd spilling over to the stairs and beyond. While some children tried to climb on to the wall friezes, a few impatient ones ran around the premises playing “hide and seek” with their siblings and friends.

For a significant number of people, Jama Masjid is a popular outing spot during this month. While many come here for their favourite Mutton Burra, children look forward to the special Shahi Tukda. The stalls and shops lined up across Gate No.1 of the masjid are other major attraction for shoppers and foodies.

“Jama Masjid is like a picnic spot for us. During Ramzan, we make it a point to visit this place at least once,” says Suhana Saifuddin, a resident of Vasant Vihar. Saifuddin is accompanied by nine other family members. “Nobody wants to miss out on the chance to come here. My 90-year-old grandfather is also here today,” says Saifuddin pushing the wheelchair of the nonagenarian.

In most families, staying up the whole night comes naturally during Ramzan. “The roza does not end with iftar. Once home, we read verses from tarawi, kalam pak, nafil till 2-2.30 am. We wake up around 3 am to prepare fresh food for sehri,” says Shagufta Saifuddin, 17.

This lively atmosphere changes contours of this area that is tucked away in Old Delhi. And with the festivities come incentives for children and teenagers who get what they desire, especially on the day before Eid when they visit the market area. Since they cannot stop eyeing the bangles and shoes in the stalls, their parents happily give in to their demands.

For the grown-ups, the market brings a sense of nostalgia. A few reminiscent how the celebrations are not “as grand” as they used to be earlier and how enthusiasm has waned away, with lesser people joining the revelries.

“Hundreds of people thronging the masjid during this season is a common sight. But now, in comparison to previous years, the number of people visiting the area is dwindling.

Though the place draws a strong crowd throughout the year, it is only during Ramzan that people from far-flung areas come here to offer prayers,” says Mohammad Akram, the owner of Al Jawahar restaurant, located in the lane across the entry of Gate No.1.

He adds that this month is not a time to celebrate but to reflect. “One should reflect on their duty towards God and control any kind of temptation. Fasting is just one way to please God.”

Though the area is famous for being a “hub of restaurants”, gorging on food in large amounts is often looked down upon by certain sections of the community. “In line with the Prophetic tradition, food should be consumed in small amounts.

And to ensure that people fasting shouldn’t get tempted by food being served inside the food joints, many restaurants cover their entrances with curtains. “During afternoon, restaurants cover entrances so that passers-by, who are fasting, do not catch a glimpse of those seated inside,” says Akram, as the queue outside his restaurants grows longer and the sitting area remains packed.


“The weather in Delhi is now the best for keeping a fast. When the mercury shoots over 40 degree Celsius, remaining thirsty becomes difficult,” says Mohammad Salman in his mid 20s.

He usually comes with his friends during Ramzan and spends an entire day. “One feels more attuned to the mood of Ramzan as you break your fast with people who are not immediate family members.” As people ride bikes and drive their cars through the congested road, a visitor at Jama Masjid captures the mood in a few words. “Jama Masjid never sleeps during Ramzan,” says Mohammad Ijaz. As Jama Masjid prepares for Isha ki namaz, the women begin to leave the premises. The celebrations outside continue.

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