There’s an additive buzz in the perennially bustling streets around the Jama Masjid. As I walk out of Jama Masjid Metro Station and onto Matia Mahal Road towards the mosque, this flush of excitement washes over me, along with a strong gust of hot summer air, leaving me with goosebumps for some long seconds.
I crisscross my way through the crowded road lined with fruit vendors hawking their dates and mangoes and apples, my mind full of curiosity, my heart brimming with excitement.
I am at the Jama Masjid, one of India’s most popular mosques, to experience iftar, the evening meal in the holy month of Ramzan, where Muslims break their day-long fast (roza) after sunset.
Ramzan refers to the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered to be the holiest of the twelve months. As per Islam, in the month of Ramzan, the Prophet Muhammad received divine revelation, and Allah sent down the Holy Quran to him.
It’s my first time witnessing a mass iftar, that too at the grand Jama Masjid, so to understand the going-ons better, I have joined an iftar gathering hosted by Unzip Delhi, a cultural endeavour that aims at enlightening people about Delhi’s rich culture and heritage.
The steps leading up to the mosque are crowded, with touts and alm-seekers vying for the attention of visitors headed inside. Inside, the huge courtyard is abuzz with preparations for iftar – dastarkhwans (dining spreads) are being laid out, devotees are bent over at the beautiful hauz (large open water tank) for wazu (ritual ablutions), families that have carried their own meals are settling down on their mats to wait for the iftar announcement, photographers and curious visitors are trying to capture the evening in their cameras.