With the sound of the bursting of explosive-laden crackers, thousands of faithful gathered in the courtyard of India’s historic Jama Masjid (main mosque) in the capital city of Delhi break the fasting together every evening during the Holy month of Ramazan.
Known for a feisty Ramazan, the old part of Delhi city was missing festivities over the past two years due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Locals say the life has returned to the area and the courtyard of the red sandstone mosque built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century.
Its courtyard looks like a large dining hall, where thousands of people with an assortment of delicacies before them await the signal to eat.
"This place is full of activities now and this scene was missing," Javaid Ahmad Khan, a resident, told Anadolu Agency, pointing towards the compound of the mosque, filled to the brim with worshippers.
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The signal to break the fast or Iftar comes in two cannon-fire sounds, followed by an intense silence as water is drunk and food is eaten.
Historians say that during the Mughal period which lasted till 1857, a canon stationed in the courtyard of the mosque was fired to announce the breaking of the fast.
When the British took over the city, the firing of cannons was replaced with the bursting of explosive-laden crackers.
"Traditionally cannon was fired to signal Iftar. Now, we use two loud sounds of firecrackers and also switch on the lights of the mosque minarets to let people know that it is time to break the fast," said Mohammed Ansarul Haq, a member of the mosque's management committee.
He said that this year, due to no pandemic restrictions, tarawih (special late-night prayers) are being held at the mosque and the number of worshipers is substantial.
Culture of Iftar parties
India’s capital New Delhi, known for political hustle and bustle, is historically also famous for grand Iftar parties hosted by politicians across the board, which used to work as a platform for different communities in plural India to meet and bond.
No less than persons like the president, prime minister, and other dignitaries across the political spectrum used to host such parties.
But since 2014, when the rightist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assumed power, the culture of Iftar parties has dried up in India.
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"It has created an impact because of the anti-Muslim environment which we are seeing in the country. Iftar parties used to be an opportunity to celebrate this important occasion with our brothers in the country who are not Muslims," Niyaz Farooqui, secretary of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, India's largest socio-religious Muslim organization, told Anadolu Agency.
"But now bridges are being broken and distances are being created among the communities. This is the reason why we are seeing lesser Iftar parties now at all levels,” he added.
Veteran Indian journalist Qurban Ali said the Iftar parties also used to have political significance and for many journalists would become a source of news as well.
"Through these parties, one would know more about the developing political situations, especially in times of coalition governments, like heavyweight politicians attended a particular Iftar party, who are friends of who, etc... that would become a news ...," he said.
Ali said the overall growing narrative against the Muslims is the reason behind the vanishing Iftar parties.
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