Colours, sounds and spirits of Iftar

Whereever I looked, I saw melon, papaya, bananas and mangos on plates, uncountable numbers of samosas, piles of dates, chicken wings and potato chips. Families had brought their picnic blanket, baskets and bowls, filled to the rim with dainties. But still no one was eating.

Now during Ramzan (Ramadan), thousands of Moslems are coming together every evening in the Jama Masjid. Theywait  for the gunshot that would signal the day’s break of the fast. During these days, the mosque looks nothing like it normally does. The scattered tourists with their cameras are gone, and in come the religious masses with all their colours, sounds, smells and flavours of life.

The people were inviting me over and over again to join them for Iftar, to share the special moment with them, to let them fulfil a good deed. I refused as long as I could, but one boy was so insistent that I finally accepted a mixed plate of food. I sat down at the washing basin and admired the serenity with which the faithful, who hadn’t even had a sip of water the whole day, were not drawn by the lure of the food in front of them.

I saw no eagerness, no anticipation, no longing. When the loud cannon sound resounded between the marble walls, the hands slowly moved towards the dates. I anticipated a pompous feast, but saw a grateful filling of the stomachs.

After the sun had set, the little lanes around the Jama Masjid came to life and roadside stalls everywhere fried chicken and fish and pakoras in huge kadhais, others baked bread or prepared hillocks of vegetables or stirred some mutton korma. It wasn’t only for those, who can afford it. But also for the poor fellows, who waited squatting and crowded together in front of the stalls for the donations.

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