The blessed month of Ramzan is here.
Ramzan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and begins with the sighting of the crescent moon. This month has a charm of its own and like everywhere else; the incredible spirit of Ramzan is observed with great vehemence and zeal here in Kashmir.
If you are hoping to know about our Ramzan in Kashmir, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few basics for a perfect Kashmiri Ramazan and if you are a Kashmiri, you can relate to following things:
The ‘human alarm’ for residents of Kashmir – The Sehar Khans.
As you know, Ramzan is a month of fast and prayer. Every day from dawn to sunset we observe fast, one of the five pillars of Islam.
Waking up for sehri or the pre-dawn meal while the whole place is cloaked in darkness is a test of the strong will power of Ramzan fasting. But it feels good when you know you are not alone in this. “Waqhtey Sahar!” In the wee hours of the morning, voluntary drummers pierce the silence that wraps the dark valley waking up people for sehri. They are the ‘Sehar Khans’ – the human alarm clocks for residents of Kashmir.
How can we forget, recently there was a viral video of a Sikh man waking up Muslim neighbours for Sehri in Jammu and Kashmir’s, Pulwama. This is ‘Kashmiriyat’; this is the communal harmony that has existed in the Paradise for centuries.
What is a ‘Sehri’ without some rice?
In Kashmiri psyche, rice is a staple. Our Sehri (the pre-dawn meal) is considered incomplete without rice. Followed by rice is our love for ‘gulabi chai’ or ‘pink tea’. The tea is accompanied by the geow-dar csot (bread made with ghee), a Ramazan speciality in Kashmir, made only during this month.
“It is Ramzan” is a common refrain in the Valley.
A regularly recurring phrase during the month of Ramzan. “It is Ramzan and you are making us wait?” or “How can you overcharge during Ramzan?” or “I do not want to fight, it’s Ramzan.”
A beggar at our door.
Giving has always brought out the best in people and the month of Ramzan is all about that. Since charity and giving is an integral part of this month, there’s a knock every now and then on your door and no points guessing who it is, beggars. Happens all the time in the Valley.
The ‘Dessert of the Month ‘goes to…Phirni!
The all-time favourite snowy phirni is made and offered exclusively for the family and also send to masjid and relatives. The month of Ramzan is arguably the favorite month to indulge in this extremely popular rice pudding. Mom prepares phirni and halwa, made of ghee (clarified butter) for breaking the day-long fast.
Waiting for ‘Iftar’ be like..
Your eyes are somehow glued to the clock the entire day. While on other days you have no idea of maghrib prayers (prayed after sunset), during Ramadan the scene is very different. You know the exact time on the tip of your tongue and during the prayers, there’s a lot of coughing which is a signal for the Imam to finish quickly, as the most awaited part of the day is here, Iftar.
A typical Kashmiri Iftari drink – ‘Babribeoul treish’.
Basil seeds put in milk with hint of sugar, that’s how a babribyol sherbet takes its shape. The iconic drink followed by the mandatory dates and water.
Long kandur queues.
Caution: The ridiculous long queues at kandur (bread), might make you feel like killing yourself.
This is an everyday scene in the valley during the whole month of Ramzan. To keep the table ready for iftar, residents start queuing up around noon outside the shops of the kandur, the local bread makers of Kashmir. The kandur take special orders – so visitors can get customised bread made with extra ghee, poppy and sesame seeds.
The crazy Eid shopping.
Eid is not Eid without some crazy shopping. We, Kashmiris, shop A LOT. How can I forget the almost not visible bakery and meat shops because of the crowd in front of them to the serious fights at the tailor shop to get your salwar stitched on time?
You’ll have to spend a couple of hours there.
Religious chants ‘Afsoos Aze Gowham Judaa, Aiy Mahi Ramzaan Alvida’ – My heart is full of sorrow, Oh! The month of Ramadan, today we part! – are common in the mosques and shrines of Kashmir during the last phase of Ramadan.
Eid is incomplete without young girls applying mehandi. It’s a gala time for Muslims in the valley as well as around the world.
There’s an old saying, we Kashmiris eat more in the month of fasting, Ramzan, than during the rest of the year. The prayers, fasting and feasting of Ramzan leaves all of us eagerly waiting for Eid. And then before you know it, it’s Eid.
May this Ramzan usher in for us a period of blessings and abundance.
There seems to be no end to the blessings in Ramzan. Allah’s Apostle (SAW) said, “When Ramzan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened.”