By Yana Mir
23 April 2020
Ramzaan is a month fervently awaited by all Kashmiri Muslims. It’s a month where our love for Almighty is tested. Our faith is tested. After a 12 hour fast, which starts with Sahri before Fajr at dawn and ends in Iftaar at dusk after Maghrib, it feels like a blessing to collectively gather around the Iftar table with Ramzaan delicacies spread out on the dastarkhwan.
It has been this way since years…but what is different this year ? The corona virus pandemic has changed everything in the world..So how will it affect Ramzaan in Kashmir this year? What will change and what will not?
With Ramadan comes Sahar Khan chanting ‘Waqt-e-sahar’ and beating his drum. They arrive from far-flung villages, and are drummers who act as human alarms during Ramzaan. Many local families in Srinagar invite Sahar khan to break their fast at Iftar in turns. He has been our alarm clock during this month for years now. But possibly we wont see or hear him this year due to the outbreak and preventive measures in place. Most villages are red zones or buffer zones and no movement in or out of these villages is allowed.
Long Kandur queues:
People are advised to stay and even pray at home. However they are allowed to go out to buy essentials. So possibly this year too the long queues to buy baked items will continue but with social distancing methodology followed.
Duhelkhaw or Duldoes is the name teasingly given to people who don’t keep fast. But since this year everyone is under covid 19 lockdown, no one is going to work, no hyekat only sleep,its possible most people will take it as an opportunity to please Khodaya and not miss their fast. So we may not get to call anyone these funny names.
No door-to-door Beggars..
Since forces are keeping strict vigil on people moving out on streets, this year we might not see beggars knocking at our doors and saying” Khodayi sin paase dyetav kehn”
Iftaar is incomplete without the famous babriboel drink. It is the real thirst quencher. Feels like jannat. It is sweet gelatinous drink of basil seeds. Babribeoul Treish is water mixed with basil seeds for quenching thirst. In Kashmir, it is also popularly known as Kand Sharbat. Since milk and sugar are considered essentials during lockdown, saffron is easily available in Kashmir and most households have the precious babri boel seeds in stock, it seems like this one tradition will remain unchanged in this years Ramzan.
Traditional firni is made with semolina. Its availability in current market conditions is doubtful. However it also has a rice variant.Again since rice, milk and sugar are essential commodities and available to buy in lockdown, it seems like kids in most households will be heard saying “Mummy ha cha az firni banawmech”.
So there are restrictions on praying at masjids, but none whatsoever in praying at home. All those who used to have debates about how many rakats to pray in Taraweh in previous Ramzaan years, this year they will gladly pray extra rakaats..
Eid shopping and over booking of mehendi appliers:
This will be sadly missed this year on Ramzaan. Usually tailor shops are crowding with customers. Tailors are heard saying “ bibi aap abhi joda silnay dengi toh chand raat ko milega”. However this year due to the lockdown, Tailor shops will be empty. Customary mehendi applications may just be done by ladies in their own homes instead of beauty parlors, that too if they have unexpired mehendi cones stocked from before.
Although some things will become challenging and other things easier this Ramzaan, the only unchanged thing about this holy month is that the blessings are always plentiful, as the atmosphere of Ramzaan pervades every home in Kashmir.