Delhiwale: Must see this season, ramzan buffet at Nizamuddin Dargah
The tiled floor has got a new pattern. It is carpeted with hundreds of paper plates. Each plate is filled with slices of two types of melons (tarbooj and kharbooj), papaya, a few pakodis, a couple of jalebis and a big samosa.
This is the women’s part of the Jamaat Khana mosque in the Sufi shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. It is a listless afternoon of Ramzan, the Islamic season of fasting that commemorates the month when the Quran is believed to have been sent down from heaven and revealed to Prophet Muhammed. Preparations are at full swing in the shrine for the evening’s Iftari meal.
These portions will be served in the courtyard just outside this mosque where a great number of people from all backgrounds will sit down in neat rows to break the fast. At the moment the prayer hall is looking like a makeshift dining area with rusty old steel almirahs lined up beside the walls. A khadim, one of the shrine’s many hereditary caretakers, is seated on a chair, presiding over the preparations. A couple of women are huddled in one corner, quietly slicing melons. Two young men are filling up the plates with fruit slices. But not everything is under control — somebody still has to make gallons of Rooh Afza rose drink.
Travellers and city flâneurs come from all across to attend the famous qawwalis at Nizamuddin’s shrine. Many arrive during Ramzan to cherish the sight of people jointly breaking fast in the courtyard.
PORTRAIT OF A PARTNERSHIP
This is her iftar spread — plain channa dal, fresh-cut fruit and samosas. The elderly Yakuba Begum has a thick roti in her lap. She is patiently waiting for the call to prayer. It will signal the end of the day-long roza, or fast.
We meet Ms Begum one evening during the month of Ramzan in a congested central Delhi bazaar. Like many Muslims, she is observing the roza along with her husband. The couple lives on the pavement.
“We are from Bihar,” says Ms Begum in a very low voice. Gesturing towards the bearded person by her side, she adds, “He is my aadmi (man). He has problem with his eyes. He cannot see clearly… we will go to the doctor after the Eid.” The man smiles apologetically. He is wearing black shoes. Ms Begum is barefoot.
The ground around the couple is littered with leaves. People are walking past them.
“I beg,” says Ms Begum. “We don’t have children… since my husband cannot walk around on his own, I arrange for our food. Everyday we have boiled rice for sehri (the pre-dawn meal in Ramzan). ”
Just then the siren for iftar begins to wail. Ms Begum shows no hurry to touch the food. After confirming that other beggars on the street have indeed started to eat, she picks up a bottle of water and washes her hands. She then passes the bottle to her husband. He too washes his hands. She picks up the dal. Her man picks up the fruit. They eat silently.