The fast and the feast
We recount an evening in Jama Masjid, soaking in the festivities just before Eid
As the clock starts ticking to 7.25, the Iftaar time, and the courtyard of Jama Masjid in Old Delhi starts to swell. The red sandstone courtyard starts turning colourful, as visitors come dressed in bright outfits for Iftaar (opening of fast) and the evening maghrib prayer during Ramzan. The wind is strong, and makes the colourful dupattas, mostly in red, pink and yellow, unmanageable. Kids are having a field day and playing ‘catch me if you can’. The young are busy putting the dastarkhan, the women of the families are laying out the dishes, while the seniors are doing ablution (ceremonial washing of hands and feet) at the water tank located at the centre of the courtyard. Soon, the courtyard is covered with several dastarkhans, resplendent with glasses of sharbat, dates, pakodas, fruit chats, dahi badas, etc.
I am with Sachin Bansal, chief explorer and founder of India City Walks and Nidhi Bansal, co-founder of the group, who are leading a small group of select few to a Ramzan walk. As we wait for the Iftaar to start, Sachin shares some facts. “The mosque is divided into three parts: arched entrance, courtyard with tank for wuzu (a purification ritual), and the liwan (domed prayer hall). There is a long inscription spread over the 10 arches of the liwan. The inscription written in ornate Persian is a panegyric (prashasti), which praises the emperor for building the mosque,” he says. Signal to start the Iftaar is given by firing a canon. After Iftaar, festivities continue over the night as Sachin leads us to some of the popular eateries for a hearty meal of biryani, chicken fry, tikka and shahi tukda, etc.
(From top): Devotees opening their fast on the courtyard of Jama Masjid, Eid shopping picks up on the lane opposite gate number one of Jama Masjid, a dastarkhan