Shararas and sheermal ruled the streets of Old Delhi this Ramzan

We visit Old Delhi and Batla House market in Delhi's Jamia Nagar to figure out what were the trends like this Eid

  • Published 11.06.19, 7:51 PM
  • Updated 11.06.19, 7:51 PM
  • 3 mins read
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While during Ramzan most shops in Old Delhi are open till late at night, business picks up in the last 15 days leading up to Eid iStock

“Even on a regular basis a customer is an allah ka banda (a Godsent) for us, but in the festive month, our relation with the customers deepens further,” says 30-year-old Shaad Khan, who runs Hoor Silk Emporium, a garments shop in Old Delhi near Jama Masjid.

It’s the weekend after Eid and I am doing the rounds of Old Delhi to get a feel of what sold and what didn’t during the month of Ramzan. Khan says this Eid it was all about shararas. “Shararas have replaced the trend of gowns and frocks, which were very popular the last few years.” Another trader, Mohammad Azad, 28, who owns shop no. 20 in Old Delhi’s Meena Bazar agrees with him. “We must have sold at least 1200 shararas. The ones made of net or georgette with zari embroidery were the most in demand. We sold them paired with a long or short kurta and a dupatta.”

Sharara is a pair of lose, flared trousers, usually worn with a straight kurta and adorned with a dupatta. While it was very popular in the 1970s and 80s, especially amongst Muslim women, it was soon overtaken by the lehanga. However, Bollywood has brought it back into fashion again. Deepika Padukone wore shararas in Bajirao Mastani and Kareena Kapoor’s sharara in ‘Bole choodiyan’ in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham made it quite popular.

Sheermal – a saffron-flavoured milk bread laced with dry fruits – that is had either with meat or on its own as a snack
Sheermal – a saffron-flavoured milk bread laced with dry fruits – that is had either with meat or on its own as a snack Picture credit: Zumbish

Flavours of Eid

As I make my way through the market I breathe in the aromas of freshly baked sheermal – a saffron-flavoured milk bread laced with dry fruits – that is had either with meat or on its own as a snack.

Fazlur Rehman who runs Rahmatullah Hotel in the lanes of Old Delhi says that the demand for sheermals and rotis pushed him to serve until midnight and open the hotel again as early as 4 am for sehri (the meal eaten before dawn) during the month of Ramzan. The hotel usually shuts at 10 pm and doesn’t open before 7 am the next day. 

The popular varieties of dates this year were the Indian khajoor along with exotic varieties from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan such as Gulab Jamun, Mariam, Ajawa and Magnol, priced between Rs 150 and Rs 2,000 per kg
The popular varieties of dates this year were the Indian khajoor along with exotic varieties from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan such as Gulab Jamun, Mariam, Ajawa and Magnol, priced between Rs 150 and Rs 2,000 per kg Picture credit: Zumbish

Those who deal in dates were happy with sales this Ramzan especially since date prices have gone up by Rs 100 per kg on an average. A large number of people eat dates to break their fast. The popular varieties this year were the Indian khajoor along with exotic varieties from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan such as Gulab Jamun, Mariam, Ajawa and Magnol, priced between Rs 150 and Rs 2,000 per kg.

While during Ramzan most shops in Old Delhi are open till late at night, business picks up in the last 15 days leading up to Eid. Most customers are migrants from the states of Bihar, Bengal, UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab who live in Delhi. “They come to our shops from across Delhi and NCR. But only around 2 per cent of our customers are Delhiites. Most of them come to us to buy clothes for their family members before they leave for their respective hometowns to celebrate Eid. We help them select the best for their loved ones with utmost care,” says Khan of Hoor Silk Emporium. 

Saba Kalam, who owns a showroom of designer dresses in Batla House says, “I have been hearing that Batla House market in general is not happy with sales this Ramzan
Saba Kalam, who owns a showroom of designer dresses in Batla House says, “I have been hearing that Batla House market in general is not happy with sales this Ramzan" Picture credit: Zumbish

Eid shopping in other areas

Having done the rounds of Old Delhi, I decided to explore the Batla House market in the Jamia Nagar area. Jamia Nagar located in Delhi’s neighbourhood of Okhla is considered the biggest Muslim ghetto in the national capital.

However, sales this year were poor. Wazir Ahmad, who owns a garment shop in the market says, “This Ramzan many came to our shops to check out the dresses. But very few ended up buying our items.”

Saba Kalam, who owns a showroom of designer dresses in Batla House says, “I have been hearing that Batla House market in general is not happy with sales this Ramzan. Though, we were lucky to sell a large number of shararas. Women still come to me asking for shararas like what actress Katrina Kaif wore in Phantom’s popular song Afghan Jalebi.”

The butchers in the market also complained of a dip in sales. Mohammad Junaid, a chicken shop owner, said sales of chicken, mutton and beef had reduced by 30 to 40 per cent in comparison to the festival month during previous years. This could be due to an increase in prices.

Mutton was being sold in the area at Rs 500 per kg, chicken for Rs 250/kg and beef for Rs 200 throughout Ramzan.

Nasreen Jahan, a resident of Zakir Nagar near Batla House feels the dip in the sales of beef could be because “those who invite non-Muslims to their houses during the festival refrain from cooking beef these days. It’s because of the general atmosphere.” While others feel that the purchasing capacity of the people living in the ghetto is decreasing and so they are buying less meat during Eid.