When the crescent moon is sighted on the ninth month of the lunar year, the entire Muslim community begins the annual, month long Ramzan festival. This (lunar) month of reverence and devotion is observed by Muslims across the country and around the globe as well. It's a time for seeking guidance from above while asking for forgiveness and reflecting on one's past deeds. As Ramzan is best observed with one's nearest and dearest, the OD family decided to bring you some of the flavours and sights from the bustling metropolis we call home.
Ramzan begins on the day after the night on which the crescent moon is sighted and continues for a complete lunar month, ending with the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. Muslims across the country observe fasts that commence at dawn (Suhoor) and continue during the daylight hours. The fast is then broken (Iftar) only at the end of the day, after evening prayers. This is a period of great spiritual reflection when Muslims concentrate on the core teachings of Islam and aside from fasting during the day, they also abstain from worldly desires and pleasures thereby cleansing the soul. All members are expected to follow the fast with allowances only made for children, the elderly and the unwell. Charity also plays an important role and donations are made from one's earnings through the year to mosques and to the poor.
Looking down on the crowded lanes outside the Minara Masjid
While the day involves fasting and prayer, the hours before sunrise and post sunset are what the festival is famous for, when the fast is broken and the streets come to life. Shops and eateries that were shut during the day now open their doors, both to devotees returning from their evening prayers and to people from other walks of faith who come to experience the fesitivities and more importantly, feast on the delicious food. One of the best places to do all of this is Mohammed Ali road which runs adjacent to Crawford Market. The focal point on this road is certainly the Minara Masjid where you will find the densest crowds and a host of food vendors to choose from. Because of the crowds, we decided to park the Amaze at a distance from the street and made our way on foot. Once on Mohamad Ali road, you won't need to ask for directions - just follow the crowds and your nose. We soon sniffed our way to the foot of the Minara Masjid and the scene that greeted us was a sweet assault on our senses. Like any street market, there's the din of the crowd mixed with the cries of vendors drawing patrons to their shops. Then there is the sight of a million different things that you want to taste all at once, from the array of meat on sticks ready to be grilled over hot coals, to multi-coloured sweets of all shapes and sizes luring your sweet tooth. There really is something for everyone and a host of different stalls you can eat at. Everyone has their own favourite place that you 'just shouldn't miss' but we say, if you have the time then there's a whole month to try them all.
Muslims break their Ramzan or Ramadan fasting at Khatri Masjid in Pydhonie
The Honda Amaze waits for us outside the Jama Masjid in Bandra
Just some of the delicious Ramzan spread
Another famous place in Mumbai is the iconic Haji Ali Dargah that lies right in the middle of the sea off the shoreline along Lala Lajpatrai Marg. It's both the tomb of Muslim saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari and a mosque. This beautiful sunset point is not always accessible though, as the walkway leading to the island gets quite dangerous during high tide or when the seas are rough. It was too overcast when we visited, but the famous Haji Ali juice centre serves delicious fruit shakes that were a fitting end to our drive.