Pune’s interfaith Iftaar parties have a place for everyone at the table
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Pune’s interfaith Iftaar parties have a place for everyone at the table

Puneites from all walks of life, irrespective of their religious beliefs, are celebrating the spirit of community through such social gatherings.

pune Updated: Jun 10, 2018 14:10 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
The Poonawala family at their home on Friday. The family hosts Iftaar parties every year for their friends, irrespective of their religious beliefs. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Ramadan is a month of fasting, reflection, devotion, generosity, and sacrifice observed by Muslims around the world. People across the city embrace the spirit of the holy month as people of all faiths come together to celebrate the occasion.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims observe a fast which is broken in the evening in a ceremony called Iftaar.

“It is a venue where people gather to meet their loved ones and eat the various delicious dishes prepared after the evening namaaz,” says Aliasgar Mukhtiar, founder, food adda India.Over the past few years, non-Muslims and people of other faiths also participate in Iftaar celebrations across the city. We look at the trend and speak to Puneites about how they celebrate the occasion and what they enjoy most about it.

Celebration of community

An interfaith Iftaar is one where people, irrespective of their caste or religion, come together and celebrate the spirit of Ramadan. Aliasgar, who has experienced this unique celebration, said, “This year, I was blessed to meet people who, despite their different religious beliefs, strictly followed the Islamic month and its traditions. Two of my friends were fasting throughout the month and it is such a great way of showing support and showing how a community is built from more than just one’s religion. Iftaar is a memorable experience with these wonderful people.”

He added that India is a country where religious festivals are celebrated by one and all, irrespective of their religion.

“The non-vegetarian as well as the vegetarians always have a place at the table. Everyone enjoys the food. I wish there are more instances such as this where the community can come together and celebrate special occasions,” he said.

Samreen Sayyad, a media professional, has heard about such Iftaar parties and is keen to be a part of one.

“As a part of the younger generation, this idea of interfaith Iftaar has caught my attention. Even though I haven’t been a part of one, I have heard pleasant things about it. People with different beliefs, sitting together and just enjoying a meal, is what helps build a strong community, irrespective of who belongs to which religion,” said Samreen Sayyad.

Language of faith

Ayesha Munshi, a fashion mentor, has not only been to an interfaith Iftaar, but has also hosted a few.

“Ramadan is like a month of Islamic detox where we fast to realise what tolerance tastes like. In the fast paced lifestyles of today’s world, a little time spent with the intention of sharing your generosity, promoting love, peace and togetherness is always a welcome. Iftaar parties calling for interfaith congregation is as calming to the soul as to the five senses,” says Ayesha.

With Muslims breaking their fast at sunset and non-Muslims relishing Muslim delicacies - all clad in astounding ethnic wear, heads partially covered at the time of Iftaar, Ayesha added, “It is indeed ironic how India has so many religions, but the hearts speak one language - the language of faith.”

Sharing and compassion

For Saba Poonawala, a celebrity hair and makeup artist, the holy month of Ramadan has always been about being grateful, joyous, and compassionate.

“My parents have always taught us the art of sharing. During Ramadan our home is always open for Iftaar. My friends, irrespective of their religious beliefs, come home every evening and be a part of our ceremonies. The idea is to bridge the gap and celebrate with everyone.”

Ritika Athwani, Saba’s friend, has been coming over to her place every year for Iftaar.

“I look forward to spending time with Saba and her family. It is one big celebration with lots of delicious food and lots of bonding. I thoroughly enjoy every meal made during these days. It feels like home. Farooque (Poonawala), Saba’s father, very lovingly serves us with all the delicacies they have prepared.”

First Published: Jun 10, 2018 14:08 IST