A traveller-writer’s prayers from across the border, three young, secular Delhiites with big plans for the day, and a lowdown on the popular places to feast at — we bring you all that’s Eid-Ul-Fitr in the city this year.
Pakistani writer Raza Ahmad Rumi, who is currently in the Capital for the launch of his first book, Delhi by heart, seems pretty excited about celebrating his first Eid in India. “It’s a beautiful co-incidence that I will be in India during Eid,” says Rumi. “I will begin the day with a visit to the Qutub Sahib Dargah in Mehrauli in morning. Since Eid is a festival of love, I will pray for more love and peace between the two countries this Eid.” A visit to the Jama Masjid is also on the cards, which will be followed by a lavish lunch on the streets of Old Delhi. I will gorge on kebabs and sewaiyan,” he says. “The day will end with with lots of sumptuous food, singing and sufi music at a close friend’s home.”
Rumi, whose first book tells the tale of a Pakistani traveller in India, says he had a lot of unlearning to do before he wrote the book. “As a Pakistani who was born into textbook nationalism, I became conditioned to resent India. On the other hand, I also felt a strong cultural connect due to the common historical roots. These threads became stronger as I went abroad for my studies, and befriended many Indians in a neutral territory,” says Rumi.
His frequent travels to Delhi for work provided him the opportunity to know India and its people more closely. “I did face a few hurdles like getting the visa for my frequent visits across the border, but the warmth displayed by the Punjabi and Lahori families in Delhi who were keen to meet someone from the land they had left behind was extraordinary,” shares the writer, adding, “I believe Indians travelling to Pakistan also get similar treatment.”
40, architect and interior designer
Having grown up in Faizabad, I had a few close Muslim friends, thanks to whom I developed a love for the festival. When I moved to Delhi 15 years ago, I continued to celebrate Eid here with my friends and family as I want my daughters to understand and respect different religions. Celebrations begin in the morning with greetings, then we go to our friend’s place with gifts, and the day usually ends with a big Eid feast at a dear friend’s place, where everyone enjoys irrespective of their caste, creed or religion.
22, medical professional
Eid is basically about feasting after the month-long fasting. After the morning Eid namaz, we seriously gorge on food — lots of sweets...sewai, kheer and then delicacies such as kebabs. At Jama Masjid and Nizamuddin, they have really nice Eid Melas and we wear our ‘Eid ke new suits’ and enjoy there. Then of course, the custom of Eidi, where the elders give money to the children of the house. It’s also about charity. We go to Masjids and Madrassas to distribute food and donations to the people there.
27, guitarist with the band, Silent Existence
Eid, for me, means meeting my friends, spreading love, hugging them and saying ‘Eid Mubarak ho bhai jaan’. It’s a beautiful feeling! And then comes the actual fun. We all go to Zakir Nagar area near Jamia (University) to treat ourselves to some yummy food which definitely includes nihari and chicken korma. I am a Roman Catholic and I have both Hindu and Muslim friends. We all celebrate the day as anyone else would. It’s our little reason to hold a meet-up, and friends get together to actually sit and talk.
The best of feasts in town
Nizamuddin: The market close to the dargah of Nizamuddin Aulia is decorated with lights and streamers. Must tries here are Abid Nihari and Halwa Paratha. To end the day on a high note, visit Moradabadi Biryani for a wholesome meal.
Matia mahal: Flooded with traditionally dressed men and women, this Old Delhi market holds a different charm on Eid. While you are here, don’t miss out on the chilled milk and phirni. Meethi double roti and kebabs are other highlights.
Zakir Nagar, jamia: Close to the campus of Jamia Milia Islamia, the area is flocked with people celebrating the festival. For foodies, there is Javed Nihari, hot milk sold by local vendors and of course the road side kebab joints.