Eight-year-old Mohammad Waseem was rushing from shop to shop, clutching two big plastic bags of assorted fruits in each little hand on Friday afternoon.
“Ammi has asked me to get a kilo each of apples, dates and guavas. I don't want the other boys from my gali to buy all the fresh ones before I do,” said the young resident of the congested Matia Mahal market area overlooking the ancient Jama Masjid.
Waseem was among a teeming rush of young boys lending their respective families a hand in ensuring a near-perfect end to the first Friday of the holy month of Ramzaan.
Sitting with his family on a crimson canvas sheet at the four centuries old mosque minutes later, the class I student of the Anglo-Sanskrit School at Daryaganj could be heard putting the same three questions to his mother, Rubina (30) in a single breath: “Is it time yet? When will we eat?”
When viewed from one of its high minarets, the sprawling red stone compound of the antiquated mosque was dotted with canvas sheets of varying colours.
“The month of Ramzaan is one of the holiest for Muslims. During this month, Muslims across the world fast during the day before feasting after the evening prayer. I've been almost all over the world and can say with authority that nowhere is it celebrated the way it is in Delhi,” said 75-year-old Mohammad Haroon from Malaysia. He was feasting on a serving of Shwarma at a roadside eatery near the Jama Masjid’s Gate Number 1.
Moments later, the Maghreeb brings with it a soothing calmness of the Sehri replacing the sound of words with the gulping of water and dates.
“I don’t remember when I’d had dates as sweet as these. I’ll save some for after I’ve had the chicken korma that Ammi has made for dinner,” said a grinning Waseem.
The Jama Masjid area is jam packed with visitors ranging from students from north campus to foreigners making a beeline for the popular Karim’s restaurant by 7:30 p.m.
“This is the way it will be everyday for four more weeks. This is the way it has been for centuries,” said Azeem Khan (50), a restaurant owner as he distributed phirni to a group of beggars squatting outside his shop.