[Rozedars reciting the Holy Quran inside Jama Masjid Ahle Hadees, Motipura in Malegaon (Photo: ummid.com)]
Mumbai: 06-year-old Naif Abdullah and Samara, and 04-year-old Sumaida, three siblings in a Muslim household in Malegaon had their faces covered with plain white cloth while their elder kin 12-year-old Numair Muhammad sprayed cold water. It was their way to defuse the intensity of heat wave that has taken into its grip the entire North Maharashtra, Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.
Though too young to qualify the minimum age when Ramadan fast is mandatory, they are all ‘Rozedars’ like their parents. Along with these kids, more than 14 crore Muslims across India greeted this Ramadan in summer when the days are longest and hottest - something which happens two times in one’s life, repeating itself in 33 years.
“I was 11 when Ramadan coincided with summer the last time. Now after 33 years, we are again greeting the holy month of fasting in June”, Shahid Akhtar, 44, father of Naif Abdullah and Numair Muhammad, said while talking to ummid.com.
“The gaiety and charm that are normally associated with Ramadan all remain the same. But, the heat wave, it seems, has doubled. In fact, it feels, the intensity of heat has become manifold”, he added.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a time when Muslims fast during the hours of daylight. It is common to have one meal, known as the Suhoor, just before dawn and another, known as the Iftar, directly after sunset. As one of the five pillars of Islam, fasting is obligatory for all healthy and adult Muslims - a test of patience and endurance whilst refraining from eating and drinking, and sexual activity.
Since Islamic Calendar is based on lunar cycle wherein new month begins with sighting of crescent – the new moon, Ramadan and also the other months shift by 10 or 11 days in relation to the Western calendar.
“The daylight time these days when we keep Ramadan fast is about 15 hours, and temperature on the first three days of the month was about 45 degrees”, Moeen Ansari, a retired teacher who lives in Kamptee – some 15 kms from Nagpur, said while talking to ummid.com.
Moeen Ansari and others could breathe easy when Kamptee had a dip in temperature by few degrees following a short spell of light showers that coincided with monsoon hitting the coasts of Kerala. But, those in Rajasthan and neighboring states are not that lucky as intense heat wave conditions troubled most of the residents living in areas sizzling at 45 to 46 degrees.
“Under intense heat, we are fasting for more than 15 hours as Fajr Azaan time here is at about 04:00 am and Maghrib Azaan time these days is at 07:21 pm”, Kifaytullah Siddiqui, a Jaipur resident, said. As per the MeT record, Jaipur was blazing at 43.5 degrees on Friday – 4th day of Ramadan.
Besides, sanctity and vivacity of the month, Ramadan is also famous for its delicious recipes and mouthwatering dishes. However, Rozedars, except drinking plenty of water, juices and eating some fruits, could hardly eat anything.
“We prepare the special Ramadan meal every day. But, very little is consumed. Be it Biryani, Korma or Hyderabadi Haleem, it appears everything has lost appeal. The only thing in demand at the time of Iftar nowadays is a piece of date, chilled water and Sharbat-e-Rooh Afza”, Aneequa Sabahat, who is known for her hand on mouthwatering dishes, said.
Though challenging for the faithful who are fasting, Ramadan in summer however has brought cheers for those in air-conditioner and air-cooler business. Realizing the severe weather conditions, many trustees and managements are installing air-conditioners or specially manufactured desert air-coolers in mosques.
“Mosques are overcrowded during the month of Ramadan. We already have enough fans but the tough weather condition is failing them. Hence, we have decided to install desert air-coolers”, Abdullah Faizee of Jama Masjid Ahle Hadees Mutipura said.
How much relief installation of air-conditioners or air-coolers has provided is not known. But, Rozedars believe it is the faith which gives them strength to complete their fasts in the hot summer.
“Notwithstanding the sizzling temperature these days, it is the faith that rules the holy month. This is why not only the elders but everyone, including the kids, easily completes their fast. And we do it just by the grace of Allah, the Almighty”, Shahid Akhtar said, even as his 7-year-old son Naif reminded him ‘Abbu main kal bhi roza rakhoonga’ (Dad, I will keep the fast tomorrow also).