All those who have been fasting all over the world from Bosnia to Indonesia, from the Caucasus to Africa, have been looking forward to the day when the fasting month comes to an end. The day is eagerly awaited and once the crescent is up in the sky, celebrations erupt all across, including India. The crescent moon signifies the end of the compulsory Ramadan fasting, marked by huge feasting.
This time the celebrations will be held on July 29 (subject to moon sighting). Many food enthusiasts also get on their toes looking forwardto the mouth-watering cuisine in store. Women and girls rushing to buy new clothes; girls happily vying to apply henna on their palms; men shopping for the feast the next day are a common sight everywhere the day before Eid. Some of the places worth visiting on the Eid morning are JamaMasjid in Delhi, the Hazratbal Masjid in Srinagar and the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. Today, I will walk you across a few states in the country, from the North to the South to the East, which you can visit and be a part of the celebrations.
Hyderabad as I saw
The city of Hyderabad is one of my favourites during this time when the gallis of Lad Bazar and Charminar in the old city are lit up as a build-up to the three-day event. Everything looks so festive and you will find people cutting across ethnic, cultural and communal lines flock to the areas to buy salwar kurtas, chudidaars, bangles and pearls.
On the day of Eid, men in crisp white or sometimes colourful kurtas line up in the masjids to offer prayers; the streets are jam-packed and even traffic is diverted in some areas to let the faithful offer their prayers. Post the morning prayers, as you walk down any street of the city, the smell of kebabs and biryani wafting after the month-long lull is very tempting. If you know a Muslim family, you can invite yourself to a sumptuous meal at their place. The main cuisine will undoubtedly consist of biryani, both chicken and mutton. You can also savour haleem (a paste consisting of minced meat, milk, ghee and fruits among others). Make sure that you have the haleem properly as it the last time you are having it this season. In the evening, I would go to the Golconda Fort and the nearby Qutub Shahi Tombs for recreation.
In the land of tea gardens & rhinos, Assam
I was born in the southern portion of the state known as Barak Valley in Assam. I have watched Eid festivities in the region a couple of times and found them to be distinct. Like elsewhere, the local market places are packed from morning till late night during the last few days of Ramadan. I have seen people rush out to shop even after 11 O’Clock in case the masjid loudspeakers announced suddenly that Eid will be celebrated the following day (based on the sighting of the moon).
I would wait eagerly to have the local delicacy called the handesh (Sylheti variation of the Bengali sandesh) which relatives start preparing from the previous night. Handesh is usually served with black chickpeas. The cuisine here is slightly different. Instead of biryani, we get the pulao and chicken curry combination. At the end of it all, you will be served paan and betel nut, a climax you will not find anywhere else in India except the North-east and West Bengal. I would say, visiting this place just for the cuisine during this season is in itself would be an experience.
The city of Djinns, Delhi
The streets of Chandini Chowk are chock-a-bloc with shoppers. In fact, it is so packed that you will have to literally jostle for space. But you can fill the festivity in the air instantly. The Jama Masjid is so beautifully lit that you will just love to sit at one of the eateries and watch the mosque area come alive. If you are in Delhi, just to get the old world charm, Old Delhi is a must visit. You should not leave the place without your lunch at Karim’s.
In God’s own country, Kerala
The Malabar region of Kerala is a scene of festivity during this time. You a make a trip to Kannur or Malappuram and see for yourself how Eid is celebrated here. The local market places are packed like elsewhere in the country. But the places near the masjid are beautifully lit, adding to the festive looks. The forts and beaches in Kannur see a huge footfall, as everyone makes the best use of the festive time. The Malabar biryani, served in restaurants or in people’s homes, are a must eat here.You also get delicious kebabs and fish rolls.
In the capital city of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar, people flock to the markets of Lal Chowk in order to buy eatables while young girls eagerly await their turn to have henna applied on their palms. Rosewater is a hot favourite among residents who use it at home during the festive occasion.
A visit to Shalimar Garden in the heart of the city and watch the camaraderie will make you realize that this festival is all about peace and harmony.
A carnival-like atmosphere in Chennai
Chennai is a bit different when it comes to celebrations. For your last minute shopping, you can head down to Triplicane and Thousand Lights. I love going to the Marina Beach as entire families comedown here, giving you a carnival-like atmosphere. From the young to the old, you will find everyone at the beach till late at night simply relaxing, enjoying the breeze and chatting.
No matter where you are, soak in the festivities whether shopping or enjoying the Eid cuisine, which will tune your taste-buds for the better. Wishing all the readers Eid greetings in advance!