The blessed month of Ramadan is right upon us. As per the Islamic calendar, the Holy month of Ramadan begins on the sighting of the new crescent moon.
The month-long observance — which starts from today will see Muslims fasting from dawn to sunset, reciting verses from the Quran and attending prayer sessions.
Those in Jaipur can smell festivity in the air and devotion on faces because it’s just the beginning of the month of Ramadan! Observed annually by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (sawm), Ramadan is followed by the entire Muslim community to get closer to God and live the life of the less fortunate ones. It is also a time of joy and for spending time with one’s family, and also shopping.
Did you know that the word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramida or ar-ramad, which means scorching heat or dryness? Because the time right now is of peak summer and that makes this fasting even more difficult and challenging to follow. Though Ramadan is followed and celebrated in all the areas of Jaipur, the festival’s real sheen is seen in the walled city, especially Ramganj Bazaar. The market was named Ramganj after Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II who was the one to bring modernization in the architecture of Jaipur. The name Ramganj, Ram + Ganj (meaning area) reaffirms that this area is the soul of the city as it houses the oldest mosques that smoothly blend in the wise architecture of the walled city of Jaipur. Along with a plethora of mosques, the city’s most authentic Mughal cuisines are found in Ramganj Bazaar and the nearby lanes (galiyan). Ramganj Bazaar is equivalent to the Char Minar of Hyderabad & Jama Masjid of Delhi.
But how exactly do they go about fasting?
Every Muslim, mostly after he/she turns 12, considers it their farz (duty) to fast during Ramadan but are excused in case of exceptional circumstances like illness, pregnancy, travel etc. Ramadan is the fourth pillar of Islam and is practised in reverence of Allah. The month generally consists of 29-30 days depending on the visual sightings of the crescent moon and all the followers follow the timetable of Mecca. They eat before 3 a.m. and post that, they don’t eat or drink anything throughout the day, including water. The meal that they have in the morning is called Sehri. As the day proceeds, they recite namaaz at mosque (masjid) in the evening and at around 7:15 pm i.e. after sunset, they open their fast with something natural like fruits, dates (khajur), milk, water – basically anything which isn’t cooked over fire. Dates are popularly eaten to open the roza for their different quality of providing instant energy after a day full of fasting. The meal served in the evening is called Iftaar.
It was in the holy month of Ramadan on the memorable night of Laylat al-Qadr that the Holy Quran was first revealed to humankind. Five daily prayers are observed every day from dawn to night. They are called: Fajr (dawn), Dhuhr (noon), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (evening), and Isha (night).
After Iftaar, the devotees visit Masjid at around 9 p.m. where Quran is recited for about 1.5 hours, and all the people sit there listening to it. After 29 or 30 days, the Eid-Al-Fitr celebrations start in full swing where mosques are decorated, the lanes are dazzling in lights, and folks visit each other to wish and exchange sweets especially Sevayian Kheer as it’s also known as Meethi Eid. The night of spotting the moon and ending the fasts is known as ‘Chaand Raat’ or the night of the moon
The end of Ramadan is also marked with the sighting of the crescent moon, denoting Eid-al-Fitr, which should be in the first week of June.
Ramzan Mubarak to you and your family! May Allah’s blessings be with you!