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Eid might be a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reminisce the lovely and iconic local markets the festival brings with it. Here are some of these special streets for you to bookmark for your share of tangri kebabs and meethi seviyan next year! By Bayar Jain
1. Delhi’s Jama Masjid
On any given day, Delhi’s Jama Masjid area is full of life yet calm in its very essence. Being tucked away in Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk gives it a character unlike any other in the city, but the holy Islamic month elevates this to levels unimaginable. Usually, during Eid-Al-Fitr (the day marking the breaking of the month-long fast), thousands of people gather at the Masjid courtyard – a magnificent Indo-Islamic style 17th-century mosque built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan – to sing their prayers in unison. Following this, the devotees retreat to the narrow lanes of the Meena Bazaar where colourful shararas and bright tāqiyā’s dress every person. While some people visit burial grounds to pay respect to the departed souls – a custom known as ziyarat-al-qubur, some others dive straight into the mountainous amounts of kebabs, butter chickens, keema delicacies and niharis available at the Bazaar Matia Mahal – a lane opposite Jama Masjid. This year, however, our heart misses the phirnis, gulab jamuns, and over 350 types of khuloos (dates) available here at the multigenerational small shops.
2. Mumbai’s Mohammed Ali Road
Located in South Mumbai, Mumbai’s Mohammed Ali Road – and the Minara Masjid here – usually dons an electric avatar during this time of the year. A festival-like persona sweeps the streets, with countless stalls and carts brimming with meats dot the lanes. While the bustling road sees swarms of people crowding the area all throughout the day during Eid, happy mayhem only settles in post 7 pm once its time for the final iftar. Haleem delicacies and drippy malpuas spill onto the streets while the overhead twinkling of lights adds to the festivities. Meat lovers can find themselves spoilt for choice as foods like Khii (udders), Khaleeji (liver), Zubaan fry, Zubaan soups peek from every corner. Once done, cold firnis and falooda work wonders in ending the culinary journey.
3. Hyderabad’s Charminar
The historic Charminar in Hyderabad has served as the epicentre for Ramadan for centuries and has unanimously been considered the hub of the festivities in the city. Here, the shopping spree reaches a new zenith as everything is sold at discounted rates. Bargain-hunters flock to the monument and jostle to reach a favourable trade. The night Bazaar during this time, however, steals the show. During a usual Ramadan month, and more so during Eid, the areas starting from the Charminar bus stop till the Madina building near Nayapul are full of makeshift stalls. The carnival-like atmosphere includes the melodious sounds of bangles sold at Laad Bazaar, the exquisite designer dress in Patthergatti, or even sweet whiffs of countless perfumes or ittar lingering in the air.
4. All areas of old Lucknow
The City of Nawabs stays true to its tag of being kebab-loving land during Ramadan by thronging every inch of the city with its iftari foods. Lucknow’s mouth-watering Awadhi cuisines tease every rozedar in streets including Victoria Street, Aminabad and Hazratganj. Think of yummy dishes like mouth-watering tundey kebabs, melt-in-your-mouth galawati gebabs, soft kakori kebabs, chunky boti kebabs, or flavourful shami kebabs. However, despite this food extravaganza, the spirituality of the space remains akin to its yesteryears’ avatar. Multitudinous people gather around places like Bada Imambara and offer their prayers together – a practise that has remained afloat in the city for centuries. A standout in Lucknow’s Eid celebrations, however, is the Chaand Raat. Once the moon is visible on the night of Eid, fireworks usually light up the skyline and dozens of people in glittering new clothes throng the streets.
5. Srinagar’s Hazratbal Mosque
An already picturesque land, Srinagar dolls up even more during Ramadan, of which Hazratbal Mosque steals the show. Located on the banks of the Dal Lake, this holy relic of Prophet Muhammad here is graced with devotees offering prayers. Calls of ‘Eid Mubarak’ echo in the valley and families are seen exchanging eidi with one another. The silvery-white appearance of the mosque itself sees a riot of colours owing the many dressed up visitors that visit the space.