| Customers at a shop in Patna on Sunday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
The markets are buzzing with activity in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Hawkers and vendors have set up stalls selling dates, ittar (perfume) sewaiyan and lachchhha stalls along roadsides.
On Monday, Muslims would observe the dawn-to-dusk fast. The markets are chock-a-block and the streets were bustling with activity. People were busy buying items for Iftar and Sehri.
Vendors are selling a variety of dates, ranging from Rs 150 to Rs 500 a kg. One of them said: “These dates were imported from Saudi Arabia and are very rich in quality. It is very much in demand as many Muslims break their fast by eating dates before beginning the Iftar meal.”
Bakery stores, too, have geared up to sell the best naan, kulchas and bakarkhanis. Arman, the manager of Haji Bakery, said: “Naans and bakarkhanis are available in the range of Rs 20 and Rs 50 and Rs 30 and Rs 120 per piece respectively. Shahi (special) bakarkhanis, enriched with dry fruits, cost Rs 150 which are made only to order.”
“I like to eat bakarkhani as my Sehri because it is very delicious. The aroma of these rotis makes me drool. I bought shahi bakarkhani for the first day of Sehri,” said Nouman Akhtar, a resident of Ashok Rajpath. Many hotels also set up their own Ramazan tent to entertain visitors all evening, where Arabic delicacies are enjoyed over long chats. Small hotels and dhaabas are ready to prepare and sell iftari.
Tanveer Khan, the owner of Biryani King, said: “Naan and kebabs, biryani, imirti, chadrakala, dal phulkis, chola bhatura and vegetable pakodas are some of the cuisines offered to customers. Most of them are students who won’t be able to cook because of their busy schedule.”
“I have a hectic schedule. I can’t get enough time to cook even during holidays. I eat Iftari at the hotel near my lodge. There I get a variety of delicacies at affordable prices,” said Shakeel Ahmad.
Prior to Ramazan, there has been a surge in price of major food items, especially fruits like mango, malta, guava and pomegranate. Akhil, a fruit vendor near Income Tax roundabout, said: “As the demand goes up during Ramazan, the prices of different fruits automatically increase. The demand of fruits has increased by 75 per cent.”
“I usually buy fruits from the local vendors as the big markets are far away. During daytime, the area gets crowded with people hurrying to buy items for the Iftar. I hate the attitude of the vendors, especially in Ramazan as they act like kings. I am bothered but I have to buy those no matter how jacked up the rates are,” said Bushra Fatmi, a resident of Raja Bazaar.
Aisha Tabinda, a resident of Alam Ganj, said: “I am very happy that this Ramazan we would be able to eat mangoes throughout the month. Everybody in my family loves the fruit. I also use mango in custard or fruit salad.”
Some organisations and madarsas have also arranged Iftar gathering for the penniless. Mufti Shakeel, the imam of Darul-ul-al-Islamia Masjid, Phulwarisharif, said: “All the masjids in the city have been painted before Ramazan as people prefer to offer prayers five times. Muslims often offer more prayers on Laylat-al-Qadr (night of destiny).”