Had they not stayed up for Eid-e-Milad festivities, the Jehan family might have died in the fire at Naya Nagar slum in Mahim.
"As part of our rituals, we were awake till the wee hours of Friday morning. When we first heard a blast, we assumed it was firecrackers," said 27-year-old Ainoor Jehan, recounting how she managed the narrow escape with her three children in her arms. "It is through God's will that we survived. Had it not been for the festivities, many more of us would have been victims of the fire," she added.
Along the narrow lanes of the Muslim-dominated slum, strings of green flags and streamers had been fixed a day in advance to ring in the Eid celebrations. On Friday, the decorations wore burnt fringes, a reminder of the residents' losses.
Nasreen Qureshi, 37, who ran a tailoring unit in her single-room shanty, said, "Although most of our houses were gutted in the fire, none of us sustained injuries. As most of us hadn't slept, we managed to escape before the fire could spread to our homes."
The lavish spread that had been prepared for the festivities eventually helped feed hundreds of distraught locals. In a tiny automobile garage located in the periphery of the slum, a group of locals, who had lost their own houses, were seen packing bags of pulao.
"We served almost 200 kilograms of pulao to the families in the afternoon. As the fire took place in the early hours, even young children had stayed hungry till then afternoon," said Mohamed Rais, who along with other locals, distributed the food packets to the families.