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Ramzan amid a pandemic: Helping also means celebrating

Ramzan amid a pandemic: Helping also means celebrating

HYDERABAD: The glittering streets of Charminar are empty. Post sundown no one frequents the roads thanks to the curfew hours from 7 pm till 6 am. The 2020 Ramzan is being observed in silence without any celebrations. There are several daily wage workers, who receive their iftar and suhoor from Good Samaritans because they don’t have a home to go to any more thanks to the job losses and abrupt shutting down of many enterprises.

Eid is just around the corner and even though the shops are allowed to open on alternate days, there are not many buyers on the streets which are deserted anyway thanks to the Covid-19 lockdown across the country and elsewhere in the world.

The hot winds seem heavy carrying sadness of the silent cities and their citizens confined in their homes and misfortunes several of whom, despite being fortunate enough, have decided not to buy any new clothes or prepare many scrumptious dishes. Instead, many in Hyderabad have decided to give away the money or packets of essentials to those who can’t afford their meals during these tough times.

A DIFFERENT EID

Prof Afroz Alam, HoD Political Science, Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has decided to begin the morning of Eid with namaz at his home and sharing with his family a bowl of date palms soaked overnight in milk. His family meal on the day of the festival isn’t going to be daawat-like the way it has always been. He shares, “Celebration is not just eating sumptuous food and wearing new clothes, it’s more about sharing with and caring for those, who deserve two square meals a day as a human.” Ever since the lockdown began he’s been donating his full salary for the cause of the needy.

He adds, “The NGOs and several volunteers are doing an excellent job reaching out to those who are in need of food and shelter. Their efforts have eased many living in extreme poverty.” Architect Takbir Fatima of DesignAware is running a campaign called #stopthehungervirus. And as the name is evident it’s all about feeding the needy during these bleak times. The 32-yearold says, “The money saved for the festivities has to be given to those who can’t afford even plain rice or bread. Teachings of Islam say that if your neighbour goes to sleep hungry and you are eating your food, then it’s definitely not right.” On Eid she along with volunteers will be distributing food packets to the migrant workers in her area and elsewhere.

FEEDING THE NEEDY

Noted artist Fawad Tamkanat carries food packets, bags of essentials, biscuits, and bottles of water in his car so that whenever he sees those who need these he can immediately hand them over the same. And for this Eid, he’s already been packing rice, lentils, oil, spices, etc in bags to give to those away from home.

He shares, “Indian economy, for the last few years, has been plummeting and this pandemic lockdown is the last nail in the coffin. It’s the dailywage workers and those who have migrated from other states are paying the price.

I am going to give these bags of essentials to watchmen, maids, gatekeepers among others. Celebration for me this year is to see these people well-fed.” Dr Syed Shazia Fatima, who is a dermatologist has decided not to shop anything. Instead, through her NGO Access Foundation, she’s been trying to make Eid of those better who live in orphanages and old age homes.

She says, “Eid is about celebrating with everyone. I will miss the Oudh-scented homes this year but looking forward to eating Sheer Khurma made by my mother as it’s a blessing to be with your family.”

NO RAUNAQ

While denizens are busy helping the less fortunate, it’s those in business who are suffering. Many shops are open in Gulzar Houz, Charminar but there are very few customers. Says Syed Abdul Khader of Shah Perfumes, “Our business of attars is 80-year-old. I have never seen any Ramzan like this. Very few people come to buy attars. Only those who are out on the street for important work stop by. Some old customers return to buy the perfumes like sandalwood, mogra, rose and khus as these have a cooling effect.” Abdul Shakoor of Laad Bazaar rues that because of social distancing not many women are frequenting the shops. He says, “Earlier they would with baby girls and buy them bangles for Eid. That raunaq is gone.”

—Saima@newindianexpress @Sfreen