Ramadan or Ramazan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is observed worldwide by Muslims as the month of fasting. For 29- 30 days (depending on sightings of the moon), Muslims fast every day from dawn till dusk, without consuming food or water.
A fairly large number of the women artisans at MarketPlace are Muslims and come to work each day during the month of Ramazan and go through the entire work day without any food or drink. Hasina from the Ashiana Collective tells us about her schedule during this month of fasting. “The entire family wakes up at 4 am. We are allowed to eat till 4:30 or 4:45 am. After this we don’t touch any food or water till 7:30 pm. During Ramazan we say our prayers five times a day. When it is time for iftar (refers to the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan) we offer the evening namaaz and break our fast with a very interesting spread of dishes. We cook bhajiyas, ragda, channa, and many other mouth-watering snacks for the evening.”
“Everyone in my household kept a fast this Ramazan, including my 13 year old son. He was able to attend school, cricket classes and play sports while he was fasting without any difficulty. I too was able to work through the month without any problems.”
But many women do take a break from the fasting, especially when their work is physically taxing and endless days without food and water can lead to fatigue, dehydration and general weakness. Having said that the entire month is one of fasting and then festivity, as people get together each evening to go try out the iftar delicacies sold on Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai. The eve of Eid is called Chaand Raat (literally, Night of the Moon). The entire community stays up on Chaand Raat to cook and shop. Biriyani, korma and sevaiyan are made in every household and young boys and girls go to the all night bazaars to buy new clothes and bangles for Eid. The next day, after the morning prayers are offered, people go to meet their elders to collect idi from them. Young boys and girls get money and gifts asidi from their elders along with their blessings. The festival brings together all the members of the community and strengthens the solidarity between them.