One trip to Mohamed Ali Road during Ramzan, and you know why Mumbai is called the city that never sleeps. Many of the city’s office goers associate the area with the crowded and chaotic place they drive past on the JJ flyover, the city’s longest. And yet, long after the rush hour is over, the road comes to life: glittering with fairy lights strewn across mosques and shopfronts; fragrant with food stalls cooking up Ramzan specialities; echoing with nightly readings of the Quran; and throbbing with many of the millions of Muslims and non-Muslims who are here after days of fasting or just to savour one of the city’s longest parties.
The pious: People wait outside Jama Masjid in Delhi to break their fast at sunset and offer ‘namaz’ or prayers
The month of Ramzan, which is the Islamic month when the Quran was revealed, is marked by fasting between sunrise and sunset, prayers and charity and ends with the festival of Id-ul-Fitr.
Days of fasting are punctuated with nights of feasting around Minara Masjid on Mohamed Ali Road, which is the heart of festivities in Mumbai
But Ramzan also spawns a temporary economy of charity, because wealthy Muslims are supposed to give away 2.5% of their valuation, called zakaat, during Ramzan, when any good deed is said to multiply. While it is hard to get a sense of how much money is given away, some estimates suggest that 75% of funding for madrasas (Islamic educational institutions) and orphanages comes during Ramzan. Also, 65-70% of such funds, nationally, are said to come from Mumbai.
Salim Rajani, a plastic and stock trader from the Dongri area, says he will be giving away Rs1-1.5 lakh this Ramzan to madrasas and orphanages, about 30% more than last year, as the booming stock market has multiplied his investments.
In fact, Muslim stock brokers send out valuations of their clients’ investments on the first day of Ramzan to help them calculate how much needs to be given away during the month.
200,000: Approximate number of people visiting the 1km ‘market’ stretch on Mumbai’s Mohamed Ali Road every evening during Ramzan
Rs1,200: Higher end of price, per kg, of dates (these are imported from Saudi Arabia) that are used to break the fast
5am: The beginning of the daily fast, with a prayer and a snack. The fast ends at 6.30pm
6,000: The number of verses in the Quran; a selection is read every night, for two hours, during the month
Also see following photos:
1. People offering ‘namaz’ outside Mumbai’s busy Bandra station.
2-4. Hundreds of pavement stalls selling food, dry fruit, tradiotional perfumes (‘ittar’), shoes (‘mojdis’), clothes and other goods are set up during Ramzan around Jama Masjid.
5. Mumbai’s 80-year-old Suleman Mithaiwala sweet shop introduces a new sweet almost daily during the later days of the month.
6. Shopping for saris in the Madina area, near Hyderabad’s Charminar.
7. The area around Charminar wears a festive look during Ramzan.
8. A vendor selling ‘sewaiyan’ or vermicelli near Jama Masjid, Delhi. The vermicelli is added to milk to make a sweet dish.
9. Shopkeepers doing brisk business outside Bandra station, Mumbai. Kohl being applied just before namaz.
10. Top view of Mandvi area near Mohammed Ali Road, Mumbai. The Minara Masjid is also seen in the picture.
11. Shops open till late night at Pydhonie, Mumbai.
12. Haleem being sold at Pista House purcha in the old city of Hyderabad.