Ramadan, shopping for Eid in the walled quarter of Hyderabad does
not end with the night. In fact, it picks up at night with the
centuries-old markets doing business round-the-clock.
As such, with only a couple of days left for Eid-ul-Fitr, marking
the culmination of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, all roads in
the city are now leading to shops, hotels, roadside eateries and
the ubiquitous vendors around Charminar, the symbol of Hyderabad
and the hub of Eid shopping.
In fact, the old city and some Muslim-majority areas in the
central part of the city never sleep during the holy month.
While the faithful spend the holy nights in prayers, other men,
women and children throng the markets for Eid shopping.
As one crosses the Musi river to enter the old city, the aroma of
haleem (a Ramadan dish of meat, wheat flour, spices and ghee)
The numerous hotels at Madina Junction and on the High Court Road
do brisk business selling haleem, said to have come to Hyderabad
via Iran and Afghanistan during the Mughal period.
The Madina-Charminar road, notorious for its traffic chaos
throughout the day, is witnessing jams throughout the night these
days, with vendors occupying the footpaths and selling from
garments to hairpin.
Madina, Patthargatti, Patel Market, Gulzar Houz and Laad Bazar --
famous for readymade garments, textiles, footwear, jewellery,
pearls, bangles, 'attar' (natural perfumes) and crockery, cutlery,
upholstery -- teem with thousands of buyers.
The city authorities may be planning to open a night bazaar around
Charminar for long, but every year during Ramadan, the area by
itself turns into a night bazaar, especially in the last 10 days
Those fasting, including women, take a break from shopping to end
their fast in the lawns of the historic Mecca Masjid.
After tasting haleem, dahi bade and other delicacies at nearby
eateries, they resume the shopping with fresh energy and this goes
on till late into the night.
The price hike has not dampened the spirits of Eid.
"We may have to spend a few bucks more, but we can't do without
shopping for our families, especially as the occasion comes once a
year," said Syed Yousuf, who works in a private company.
The prices of readymade garments have gone up by over 30 percent
this year and the traders attribute it mainly to rising transport
"Last year, I bought a dress for Rs.5,000 but this year, it cost
me Rs.7,000," said Shaheda Parveen, a student.
While many glittering and sprawling shopping malls have come up in
the city in the last few years, the area around Charminar remains
the hot favourite for Eid shopping.
Shoppers from neighbouring districts and even from Maharashtra and
Karnataka pour in for shopping.
Almost all the families buy new clothes, footwear and bangles for
the occasion. What makes these markets so special is the fact that
they cater to all sections of society.
With well-to-do families paying 'zakat' (Islamic wealth tax of 2.5
percent on their cash and other valuables) and every man who fasts
paying 'fitra' (fixed this year at Rs.60), the poor also join the
festivities by buying clothes, 'sweyian', dry fruits and other
items for 'sheer khorma' -- a sweet dish prepared in almost every
houshold on Eid.
The Eid shopping is the climax of unprecedented month-long
Truckloads of dates, preferred for breaking fasts, and fruits are
sold every day.
The meat supply goes up drastically to meet the demand from hotels
With Muslims accounting for 40 percent of the city's seven million
population, every commodity associated with the festivities opens
up huge business opportunities.
The volumes of business, mostly in the unorganised sector, are
beyond anybody's guess.
The business covering eatables, garments and footwear is estimated
to be over Rs.2,000 crore.
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)