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Ramadan begins in India, other neighboring countries
Monday June 30, 2014 3:46 PM, & Agencies

People went to mosques in larger numbers than usual as the first day of the holy month of Ramadan started Monday in almost entire India including Pakistan, Bangladesh and other neighboring countries.

Ramadan 2014

This followed the sighting of moon of Ramadan. Moon sighting committee comprising Islamic scholars announced sighting of the new moon Sunday. The month is also called Ramzan in India.

The fasting hours this Ramadan will be as many as 15 hours in India and other neighboring countries. This is longest in recent years, and a test becuase of delayed monsoon.

In Mumbai and nearby Malegaon, streets were abuzz with hectic activities last evening as people were busy in last minute shopping before the Traweeh prayers - the special night prayers offered in Ramadan.

In Kashmir and elsewhere, the younger generations also join their elders and keep fast and go to mosques for prayers.

"This is partly because education has helped the youth learn and understand their religion better...," said Muzaffar Ahmad, a college principal here.

The month is spent in prayer and penance to cleanse one's body and soul.

"It is only through the feeling of hunger and want that one understands what hunger and poverty is all about. Islam has ordained 'Roza' (fasting) so that all of us understand the hardships faced by those who are less privileged among us," said Javaid Ahmad, 42, who lives in Lal Bazaar area of Srinagar.

During the 30-day period of fasting, Muslims eat fruits, especially when breaking the day's fast at dusk.

"One has to eat fruits to address dehydration and to keep fit during the month of Ramadan. You cannot usually take much of mutton and chicken as high calorie diets have a tendency to increase thirst," said Muhammad Yunus Dar, 38, a resident of Soura locality in Srinagar.

He said many sellers take advantage of this and charge high rates for fruits.

The better quality dates are sold at Rs.400 per kg, pomegranates at Rs.200 a kg, and better quality grapes for Rs.480 per kg and so too other fruits.

The most sought after dry fruit during this month are dates. Breaking the day's fast with a date is believed to be 'Sunna' (practice of the Prophet).

Locals also give alms and contribute to charity during this month. With an economically affluent middle class, Kashmiris now contribute in a major way.

Some of the better managed orphanages get significant donations from the locals.

In Hyderabad, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began with the devout observing first 'roza' or fast on Monday.

Sirens blared from hundreds of mosques across the city early Monday for 'sahr' or pre-dawn meals.

The Muslim-majority old city and other neighbourhoods have been abuzz with activity since Sunday night as thousands thronged the mosques for 'Namaz-e-Taraveeh' or special prayers offered daily during which priests recite the Holy Koran.

Attired in their best and wearing skull caps, men and children were seen heading to the mosques to mark the beginning of the fasting month in this city of five million. Muslims constitute about 40 percent of the city population.

The biggest congregation was at the historic Mecca Masjid near Charminar. Special arrangements were made at some mosques and function halls for women to offer the prayers.

Shopping for groceries and other items for the month continued till late night. Some were seen buying clothes for the 'Eid' to avoid festival rush. "We do Eid shopping before the beginning of Ramadan to ensure that we spend more time in prayers during the month," said Syed Khaleel, a businessman.

The historic city with a rich Muslim heritage comes alive during the holy month. Almost every hotel sells lip-smacking 'Haleem', a dish preferred by the people after 'Iftar' or breaking the daylong fast.

The eateries in the old city, Nampally, Mehdipatnam, Toli Chowki, Masab Tank and other areas do a brisk business.

It is the time for unprecedented business activity. Truck loads of dates and fruits are sold every day. The old city never sleeps during the month as shopping continues till the early hours of the day.

Like the governments of the undivided Andhra Pradesh in the past, the first government of the newly-created Telangana state has made special arrangements for Ramadan. As Mecca Masjid and Shahi Masjid at Public Garden are under the state control, the authorities have made all necessary arrangements for the convenience of the worshippers.

Muslim employees in government offices have been permitted to return home at 4 p.m, an hour before the scheduled time. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has asked electricity department to ensure uninterrupted power supply during night time.

On the representation of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), a major political force in the city, the police have promised to permit hotels and shops to remain open till late in the night.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made for Ramadan and also Bonalu, a local festival which began Sunday. Bonalu, which has been declared a state festival by the Telangana government, will also continue for a month.

Hyderabad Police Commissioner M. Mahendra Reddy said 13,000 policemen, including 40 companies of paramilitary forces, have been deployed to maintain law and order during the twin festivals.

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