Eid Mubarak with Anjum Pasha, Qutub Alam Khan, Anjum Babukhan, Shaaz Mehmood

Fasting during the month of Ramzan is one of the central tenets of Islam – it is the ninth and holiest month in the Islamic calendar. During the entire month the faithful are expected to fast from dawn till dusk, abstaining from food and drink. It is an act of worship that the Quran prescribes as an experience to draw closer to God. Muslims give abundantly and mosques are bustling – it’s seen as a refresher month for the Islamic community to keep up their regular prayers and do more in solitary or in congregation, including the extra congregational nightly prayers known as taraweeh.

However, this year is very different – Muslims throughout the world are fasting in confinement as Covid-19 has altered the rhythm of the sacred month. Millions of Muslims have found different ways to celebrate Ramzan this year, as restrictions imposed by countries to curb the spread of Covid-19 have closed mosques and banned gatherings. Preaching has moved into conferencing apps with live streams of lectures, courses and prayers, and someone from almost every home has turned into a chef using YouTube for inspiration.

In Hyderabad, usually during this time, the city is lit up and everyone’s out and about. Charminar is a hotspot for shopping and street food throughout the night, and numerous Iftar parties are hosted everyday. But this year's celebrations are tinged with sadness due to social distancing and everything being shut. We caught up with some well-known Muslims in the city, to find out how they were celebrating this month, during the pandemic.        - Anahita

During Ramzan, Anjum Pasha ensures to to slow down, internalise and take time to appreciate and show gratitude for all that she’s been blessed with. It’s all about self-discipline for this advocate, educationist and actor, who during these days, takes a break from the over indulgent life that’s otherwise taken for granted.

How different has Ramzan been during lockdown? 
Ramzan during this lockdown has been easy and peaceful. I have faced no trouble in procuring regular fruit, meat and other groceries. All my neighbours and friends have been very helpful. There has been no frenzy to step out and go crazy shopping for unnecessary things. Right from dates with which we break our fast, to milk and other daily necessities, everything has been easily available at the nearby stores.
If anything this Ramzan has been laidback and comfortable. 

How are you fasting safely during Covid-19? 
Initially cleaning fruits and vegetables seemed daunting and made me nervous, but now sanitising has become second nature. The days do seem a little long until Iftar, but I am keeping myself busy by cooking for friends. I have pulled out my family recipes and I’ve been making some delicious traditional Hyderabadi food.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month? 
I think the earth needed to heal and the human race needed to slow down. Thanks to this, families are doing things together and the pleasant memories of my childhood are being re-lived playing ludo, scrabble, monopoly, and dumb charades. My son is learning to cook with me and we do all the house cleaning and washing together, making it more fun. I would definitely say it has been a boon!

Having said that, there’s no doubt that the economy has been severely impacted and the livelihood of thousands of people is affected. Normally shopkeepers make enough sales during this month to see them through the whole year. This year Ramzan for me, is about sharing what we have with the not-so-privileged. The holy month of Ramzan is not just about fasting and feasting but is also a time for giving, sharing and caring.

Now that everyone is fasting in confinement, what are the things you miss the most? 
The crazy midnight shopping at Charminar, driving out just for a cup of tea or a plate of haleem, staying up late, going for Iftar parties, planning Eid outfits, discussion with cousins about where we should buy our bangles and who should do our mehendi...

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened? 
I don’t want to think of this pandemic having dampened anything. India has already celebrated Ram Navami, Easter and Ugadi during lockdown with simplicity and responsibility. In fact, Covid-19 has made us realise how extremely blessed we are.

How easy/difficult is it to fast while at home, and not during work? 
Work normally helps keep your mind occupied and the rozas seem to fly. Staying home and keeping myself busy with the kitchen has fortunately worked for me and my rozas have been very easy.

What are your plans for Eid?
This year we are going to celebrate Eid virtually. We have planned lots of video chats and group calls with friends and relatives and will not allow the virus to dampen our spirits! Keeping the spirit alive, I will still make the traditional sheer khurma and haleem and we will give thanks and gratitude with simplicity.

Managing Partner of Chicha’s Restaurants and by far one of the best-looking men in the city, Qutub Alam Khan, is fasting and feasting at home with his loved ones, like everyone else. He considers this time as the best month of the year, which brings with it not just detox for the body, but also for the mind and soul.

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
Ramzan this year amidst Covid-19 is very different. Confined indoors, it actually worked better since there aren’t any phones ringing from work or elsewhere, giving us a chance to worship without any interruptions.

How are you fasting safely during Covid-19?
I have been fasting since I was nine years old, it’s not at all different in the lockdown through the day. Every year during Ramzan, I’d anyway refrain from going out during the day, but I do miss the nights where we went out for our routine food hopping.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this Holy month?
I feel it’s definitely working as a boon, as it has given me a chance to shut off from the day-to-day routine. The stress of livelihood is minimum, and I am using as much time as possible to sort out things with the Lord.

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
Well, for me it hasn’t made much of a difference since I anyway prayed at home. I live in a big joint family where we usually pray together at home each Ramzan.

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement, what are the things you miss the most?
I miss my nights working at Chicha’s! The fun and excitement this month brings are unmatched. I also miss my friends; it’s been a while since I’ve caught up with them.

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
Ramzan brings everyone together. The city never sleeps through this month, but I think Ramzan 2020 will teach us not to take such small joys for granted.

But yes, I would be lying if I said I don’t miss haleem and the food the month brings with it. But that never came between me and the worship. However, since the former is off the cards this year, I definitely feel that I’ve been praying a lot more than I otherwise did during these days.

How easy/difficult is it to fast while at home, and not during work?
Fasting is not a problem at all; people think it’s difficult but it really is not. It actually makes you realise what it might feel like for the poor, who can’t afford to eat as and when they choose. I do my bit, I encourage everyone to help the needy. If not now, then when?

What are your plans for Eid?
Eid will be different this year. We will not make new clothes, we will not decorate, we will do as much as possible to give to the people in these testing times. In connecting more with ourselves, maybe, just maybe, it might be a happier Eid, God willing. 

For Anjum Babukhan, author of ABCs of Brain Compatible Learning, Director at The Glendale Education Group and The Edvantage Teacher Leadership Institute, this month is primarily about praying, caring and sharing. In conversation with Anjum, we understood how she spends her time strengthening her consciousness of God (Taqwa), increasing gratitude, piety through prayer and recitation of the Quran.

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
I am learning  that being homebound is quite nice, as it’s helping us explore inward, with fewer external distractions and obligations.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month?
It has been a blessing to be at home while fasting, especially during the heat of May. Safety and devotion are more important anyway. 

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
The community feeling of praying shoulder-to-shoulder with others is special in Islam. We believe that all are equal in the sight of God and the only thing that differentiates one from the other is one’s piety. I used to look forward to the taraweeh prayers in the evening and hearing the summarising of the chapters of the Quran which we read. But now we do it at home. There are a lot of online summaries and programmes one can listen to. Now, our boys and I, we pray together, five times a day, at home as an intimate family congregation.

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement, what are the things you miss the most?
Of course, we miss the social and culinary elements of Ramzan. There were always a couple of fun outings for food, getting together with friends and extended family, and shopping for Eid. Going to the Old City and seeing it all lit up and festive was fun. I have a special and literal “hole in the wall” (in the Kaman) called Jahangir Kababs that I loved  visiting during Ramzan to have the yummy kulcha and mouth-watering kebabs with a zesty green chutney. We also loved going for “mandi” in Barkas with the family and friends for treats. We also hosted Eid in a big way and everyone would look forward to it. The kiddos especially loved visiting the elders and collecting their envelopes of “eidi” money that they would tally up at the end of the night. But those times will come again, God willing, once things settle down.

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
During this pandemic, I feel even more sad about the hardships that millions are facing. During fasting, it is always a humbling experience to feel hunger and thirst which makes us more aware and fills us with gratitude for what we normally take for granted. Despite the many organizations trying to distribute food to the poor, including our trust, there are so many that are still facing hunger and a myriad of difficulties. In Ramzan, most distribute their zakat funds to the poor. This Ramzan is a great opportunity for everyone to be more charitable to help those in need.

Do you feel that the lockdown has made you realise the actual, deeper meaning of this month?
Yes, in a way, it’s good. I was not comfortable with the way things had gotten commercialised into a month of feasting rather than fasting! It was ironic that food became the focus; how absurd is that? I think you always need a balance.

What are your plans for Eid?
This year, Eid will be a quiet one.

Owner of popular restaurants like Olive Bistro, Soda Bottle Openerwala, Giggle Water and The Hoppery, Shaaz Mehmood is a well-known city restaurateur. Ramzan has always been a month of praying, self-control, bonding with family and friends over good food and, of course, the famous Old City trips! We found out how he’s dealing with things not being quite the same this year.

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
We definitely have a lot more time to pray and introspect. This is perhaps the first time in my life when we have been breaking our fast (Iftar) atour own dining tables. I miss the iftar parties and food-exploring we used to do!

How are you fasting safely during Covid-19?
Fasting is actually healthy as it helps kill bad cells, and allows the regeneration of fresh ones. The world has moved onto intermittent fasting. I’ve been on it for the last seven months.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month?
It’s not about it being a boon or bane; humanity needs to be protected, so it’s best the lockdown is in place. In my opinion, it’s good that it is only going to be lifting post Eid!

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
There’s a famous saying by the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH): “If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it. But if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave the place.” This in itself is such a powerful saying that there is absolutely no need to step out of your homes because there is a plague outbreak! A mosque is a place of worship; it isn’t something one worships. God isn’t found in a mosque; God is everywhere and within our souls. Praying at home is perfectly fine.

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement, what are the things you miss the most?
The month also brings with it a lot of meeting and greeting of loved ones. I miss the Iftar parties with family and friends.

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
It’s not a time to be festive; it is a time when we need to help humanity. It is a time when we need to provide for those who are going hungry, support those who are unwell and build a positive community. So my recommendation would be to channel the festive spirit into bringing smiles to  people’s faces who have lost so much due to the pandemic.

Do you feel that the lockdown has made you realise the actual, deeper meaning of this month?
One thing the pandemic has taught us is that food, shelter and health are the essence of life. Nothing else is certain. I believe God as a supreme being is watching us and testing us. My faith is stronger now and I am confident humans will emerge much stronger to a better, conscious world.

How easy/difficult is it to fast while at home, and not during work?
I am accustomed to intermittent fasting and have been quite busy working from home. So the days fly by and it’s relatively easy to fast.

What are your plans for Eid?
This is a challenging question I haven’t thought about it yet but, yes, a Zoom family call will certainly be on the agenda.

An Aga Khani or an Ismaili Muslim, Laila Khan spends the month of Ramzan giving back to the community. The CEO of Begums Hair and Skincare, Laila loves this time of the year as it’s a time for unity. Apart from fasting, the fact that all Muslims come together to generously participate in  charity work makes it the most beautiful time of the year. She’s been lending a helping hand by distributing food to the underprivileged, and for her that’s the true essence of this festival.

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
Ramzan fills the city with lights and celebration. So yes, the lockdown does make you miss that. But the heart of Ramzan is prayer and self-reflection, which comes from within.

How are you fasting safely during Covid-19?
I think the same rules apply to Ramzan as they do to the whole lockdown; social distancing, hand-washing, hygiene and self-isolation. Eat home-cooked meals, wash your hands and all the fruits before you break your fast, and just drink lots of water, before and after.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month?
Both. On one hand we are isolated, prayers need to be done at home, and there’s no festivity. On the other hand, we can use this opportunity to take some time off, rest and spend it on spiritual growth.

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
I don’t think the location of where you pray plays any role in its value. Yes, praying in a mosque gives you a wholesome feeling as so many of us come together in the worship of Allah, and it gives us a chance to meet and greet with everyone. But praying at home is equally significant.

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement, what are the things you miss the most?
The streets filled with delicious foods and fruits, like dates, mangoes, haleem, gurda, and kaleji! Additionally, every evening all the family and friends coming together for prayers and then a meal. So really – everything!

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
Everyone’s bound to feel a little disheartened, but the festive spirit still remains quite high. Grateful to technology, we’re all able to celebrate and pray together, all as one. We’ve all got to be as positive about this as we can.

Do you feel that the lockdown has made you realise the actual, deeper meaning of this month?
It does sadden me that this year we have so many ways we cannot celebrate. But this time has really given people a sense of what it truly is to connect with Allah. It’s taught us spiritual discipline and tested our devotion. In a way, we’ve been given this time to spend more on prayer and reflection.

What are your plans for Eid?
The same. Just that, this year we exclude our materialism like buying new clothes and celebrating extravagantly. This year, we celebrate small, but sincerely. My family and I plan to donate to the needy for their expenses for food and other basic requirements, as we have been since the lockdown. And all of us who are under one roof shall pray and have a delicious home-cooked meal along with lots of fruits.

For Aamer Javeed, the holy month of Ramzan is all about connecting with the Almighty and abundant charity. Regardless of the good work done throughout the year, these are the 30 days that have him devotedly following the two pillars of Islam: Salat and Zakat. Apart from being a well-known name in the social circuit, he’s a member of the AICC (All India Congress Committee), Chairman of the AICC Telangana Research Department, Board of Governors at the Sultan-ul-Uloom Education Society, and the Director of Black Velvet Lifestyle Pvt Ltd. Here’s what this politician and educationist feels about this festive time during the lockdown.

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
If it wasn’t for the pandemic, and the world was safe – our city, like every year, would have been decorated and lively throughout the night during Ramzan. I surely miss witnessing the joyous spirit of Hyderabad in Ramzan.

You’ve been getting out and helping the needy quite a bit. What protective measures have you been taking?
During times like these, one needs to be careful. Whenever I step out for charitable purposes or for any political meetings or work, I follow all safety protocols, not just to protect myself but those around me too. And I make sure to carry extra protective items with me that I can share with anyone in need.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month?
Definitely a bane, seeing how affected many local businesses are. Ramzan is perhaps the most successful period for many businesses, and the lockdown has definitely put a damper on it. But on the flip side I have seen many come forward to help the needy, so that is always a boon.

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
When it’s the need of the hour and for the health of society, praying at home is just as spiritual and peaceful as praying in a Masjid.

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement, what are the things you miss the most?
I miss savouring the scrumptious dishes many of my friends and family prepare, especially during Ramzan. I also miss the Iftar get-togethers, generosity and hospitality.

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
Ramzan is a month of spirituality; the essence of the month will never be dampened due to external circumstances. Having said so, I do miss the festive nights during this month.

Do you feel that the lockdown has made you realise the actual, deeper meaning of this month?
Getting more time to spend with oneself trying to connect with God is a blessing in disguise for sure. But I can’t stop thinking about all those whose livelihoods greatly depend on this one month of massive business because of the food bazaars, night markets and more.

How easy/difficult is it to fast while at home, and not during work?
No matter what the circumstances are, fasting is a test of one’s willpower. So regardless of where we are, the testament to the endurance of strength remains.

What are your plans for Eid?
This Eid will be like none we’ve celebrated before. I will be spending it at my home. I will miss my extended family and friends, but will surely catch up with them thanks to video calling.

For Iffat Khan, Ramadan in general isn’t just a month where you abstain from food and drinks, as she believes there’s a lot more. In the truer sense, it’s a month of introspection, increased charity, spiritual discipline and deep contemplation. The entrepreneur, who’s got more time to introspect during these days, shares her views…

How different is Ramzan during the lockdown?
The lockdown, in general, has humbled everyone to appreciate the simple things in life. Ramadan is about spirituality and charity. During this lockdown people are doubly conscious of the needy. Everyone is multiplying their efforts to help those in need and every drop in the ocean counts.

How are you fasting safely during Coronavirus?
Safety and being conscious of everyone’s welfare around us is what will help us get through this pandemic. The month of Ramadan is no different at this time. What’s foremost in everyone’s mind is maintaining social distance, staying home and conducting all prayers, charity and other activities through minimal contact. That is from the safety of their own homes.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this Holy month?
Lockdown during Ramadan is a boon and bane in my opinion as this time is usually taken as a time to feast and shop rather than appreciate and be thankful for our blessings. This pandemic has stopped the world in its tracks and has given us time to sit back, introspect take a moment to appreciate and reach out to others who are generally overlooked. The flip side being we are trying to get to as many needy as we can, but with restrictions in place it can be a challenge.

Praying in the mosque vs praying at home…
Praying, be it at home or in the mosque at  the end of the day is about your connect with the Almighty. The call of the hour is to stay home and not congregate - so be it. It’s for our own safety, we need to respect that and follow suit.

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement - what are the things you’re missing out on the most?
I am a sucker for good food and for me, Ramadan is a time when all the delicacies make their way to peoples tables. That’s what I miss the most; and of course, the late night runs to old city for the kebabs and haleem.

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
In my opinion, the pandemic hasn’t dampened the festive spirit. Everyone’s being festive but in their own homes.

How easy/difficult is it to fast while at home, and not during work?
Staying home with nothing occupying you makes you look at the clock continuously waiting for Iftar. When you’re working you are occupied, it’s definitely easier to fast while you’re working.

What are your plans for Eid?
Eid is going to be quite low key this year with just the immediate family. Its the call of the hour and everyone should stay safe and healthy. 

M. Atif Hyder considers this blessed month a time of self-reflection and a time to get closer to the Almighty. The entrepreneur spends this month trying to improve himself from within and aims to become a better person. Here are his views on spending this holy month during the pandemic.

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
It’s been very different so far, not being able to go to the mosque for prayers, and especially the evening taraweeh prayers that happen during Ramzan. Apart from this, not seeing the streets lit up and full of life is something I’ve never experienced growing up in Hyderabad.

How are you fasting safely during Covid-19?
Staying at home and staying indoors is the safest way right now. We are all at home, having Iftar together and praying together so that we can help in the effort to stop the spread.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month?
It’s definitely a little bit of both. A boon as we have more time to ourselves and the family and are not busy with hectic daily life and work. A bane as we aren’t able to go out and are confined to our homes. The festivity on the streets and liveliness is definitely being missed.

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
It’s very different. It is definitely giving us an opportunity to make ourselves well versed with the Quran and praying with our families at home. All of us are missing going to the mosque and praying in congregation. But the essence of Ramzan is getting closer to your Lord and that is our aim, whether it’s from home or the mosque.

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement, what are the things you miss the most?
This lockdown has taught me that we can adapt to different situations when one has to. Yes, we are all missing the late-night food trips and the family gatherings, but we are also eagerly waiting for the lockdown to end and seeing all our loved ones.

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
The pandemic has actually brought the festival back to its original roots; it definitely has made us realise the deeper meaning of Ramzan. From being a time to pray, it had become more of a time to roam the streets and eat food rather than a time to better yourself. Although we are all missing the haleem, Iftar parties and night markets, I feel that we should all maintain the balance between both. So in a way, it’s teaching us that we need to always remember the true and deeper meaning of this month. After all, the primary focus of this month should be to fast and pray.

How easy/difficult is it to fast while at home, and not during work?
I think fasting is a very different and personal experience for every individual. For me, it works both ways. Sometimes you need to keep busy through the day and work, and somedays you’d want to just rest and relax and wait for Iftar. So right now, I’m happy to be home and following the lockdown as that is what we need to do.

What are your plans for Eid?
Eid will be different this year. We’ll be home, spending it with the immediate family.

This Ramzan has been one of the toughest ever for actress Mumait Khan, as it’s the first away from the family. Here’s what she had to say about how she’s spending this holy month of fasting and feasting alone.

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
Thinking of this gets me teary as I’m away from all my loved ones. This Ramzan is really different for us. But the consolation is that we’re safe. We’re quite optimistic for Ramzan next year already!

How are you fasting safely during Covid-19?
I’m not fasting this year as I’m stuck with my pet Molly and due to the aneurysm coiling that happened a few years back, my body doesn’t allow me to do so without my family’s support.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month?
Honestly speaking, I’ve never thought on those lines. I have always accepted the way life has been for me – for better or worse. I believe it’s us and our expectations that make us consider it a boon or bane. If we accept the things happening around us, especially when it’s not only happening to you, it’s a lot easier. I’ve accepted the way things are, so except positive thinking and looking forward to moving on by finding happiness and staying positive, there’s nothing else on my mind.

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
For us women, it’s no different as we don’t go to the mosque to pray. It’s the men who do, but when the whole world is going through a crisis, praying at home is the need of the hour. We’re not only keeping ourselves safe, but also the others around us. I don’t think any God or religion would ever want anyone to suffer. 

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement - what are the things you miss the most?
I miss the yummy food during Iftars. My mother and sisters cook amazing food, making our Iftars very lavish affairs. Tears are about to roll down even now, just thinking of how much I miss them.

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
For my family and I, it didn’t make any difference. We are quite positive about everything and optimistic for next year’s Ramzan. It shouldn’t dampen anything as we’re all going through this together.

Do you miss going out?
Not at all, as we’d cook at home and enjoy being together as a family. After I’d fast the whole day, by the evening when I’d break the fast, my body would be very lazy and heavy. Most of the time I wouldn’t be in any mood to go out. That’s why for me, this lockdown hasn’t been either good or bad. It’s neutral.

What are your plans for Eid?
If it wasn’t for this lockdown, I’d have been with my family. But this year I’ll be home, celebrating my Eid with Shakila Beg aunty and her family. Luckily I have her as my neighbour, and now she is like a mother to me. I’ll be celebrating it with them and, of course, missing my family.

 

For Akbar Rasheed and his family, Ramzan is a time of giving love and multiplying their prayers and practice of the religion. During this month, the CEO of Brave CF India and the MD of Mercury Sports Entertainment loves the lit-up streets, the mosques and markets – things that bring out the festive spirit. 

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
The lockdown has taken a toll on us all. But Ramzan during this time has given us a chance to take it up more seriously and to commit ourselves to prayers and other good deeds. In fact, this month of giving has given us the opportunity to provide more for those in need.

How are you fasting safely during Covid-19?
I’m staying indoors mostly, and don’t leave my home unless something urgent comes up. Even if I leave home, it’s with a mask and a hand sanitiser. We’ve minimised any kind of visitors, and try to sterilise the food and groceries on a daily basis.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month?
It is letting people practice, pray and follow the smaller details of Ramzan the way it’s supposed to be done. The Iftar parties are a cultural modification to Ramzan, although we Hyderabadis love it, but that time should rather be spent praying during Ramzan. That’s the beautiful opportunity this Lockdown-Ramzan is
giving us. 

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
As much as we miss praying in congregation (Jamaat) in the mosques, the lockdown guidelines don’t permit us to do so today. The joy of meeting and greeting our friends and family at mosques is being missed by everyone. It’s quite a ritual for families to go for prayers together during Ramzan, especially for the taraweeh prayers at nights. Due to the pandemic that seems difficult and not safe for the community. However, praying at home is equally peaceful and hopefully God will accept our prayers. But we do miss the charm and the hustle and bustle of Ramzan. 

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement,  what are the things you miss most?
The basics: haleem, family and friends. Food comes first in that list, and then family, and friends to share the joys and blessings of this holy month. The charm of the markets is missing this year, and the silence on the streets is very saddening, especially during Ramzan. The lit-up city streets and visits to Charminar are sorely missed. 

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
We continue to follow the fasts; people will still continue to give during this blessed month. I don’t think the lockdown has dampened the spirit of Ramzan directly, but there has been quite a bit of an indirect impact. The shopping during this month usually brings a lot of business to everyone, from street vendors to big shopping malls and stores. This has definitely affected that.

How easy/difficult is it to fast while at home, and not during work?
I will be honest, waking up to go to work and spending the day working do keep your mind off the fact that you are fasting. Once you get in the flow you hardly realise you are fasting. But now, being at home after all the prayers, with hardly anything to do and no one to meet, does make it a little monotonous.  

What are your plans for Eid?
It’s my first Eid with my wife Saltanath and we are happy to have observed this blessed month together. Although the extended family will be missed. 

As Ramzan is one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar, Zoha Khan considers herself lucky to be getting to experience and practice Islam during this time. The makeup artist and groomer spends these 30 days cleansing and conditioning her body, mind and soul. 

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
Ramzan during the lockdown has only highlighted the real essence of this month. It is a lot different as people realise the struggle of the poor and are not interested in throwing fancy Iftars anymore. A meal to the poor feels far more precious than an expensive outfit for Eid or throwing large Iftar parties.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month?
Definitely a boon for me! People often get distracted and lose this month in social gatherings, shopping or cooking. Ramzan is a month to worship and earn those extra brownie points!  So now that we are in a lockdown phase, it’s easier for us to put our best foot forward and make the best of this holy month. 

What have you learnt from it?
This lockdown has truly taught us how trivial life can be and how it can be snatched within seconds. Be grateful towards yourself and compassionate towards the ones who need this much, much more than us. That’s the true spirit of Ramzan. I feel everyone needed a dose of reality. It’s an excellent time for people to reflect on everything they have taken for granted, and be thankful for it. If we still have a fridge filled with groceries, a sufficient bank balance, and are in good health, we are nothing but blessed!

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
I feel it’s better at home since you get all the time for yourself and at your pace during anytime of day or night. Also, the responsibility and accountability is completely in your hands when praying at home, which makes you more conscious of your efforts.

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement, what are the things you miss the most?
I guess I’m only missing out on the spirit and enthusiasm of Ramzan in our city, and of course binge-hopping for some good haleem!

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
This year hasn’t had a good start. From natural disasters to a pandemic, the festive spirit is pretty low and sad this year. But on the positive side, it helps us look at the larger picture on a deeper and more meaningful level. 

How easy/difficult is it to fast while at home, and not during work?
It’s pretty easy to be at home and not working. It helps us retain our energy and put our heart and mind into prayers, and connect with God on a more meaningful level. 

What are your plans for Eid?
The only plan I have is to be with my immediate family and be grateful and thankful about it.

Rameez Siddiqui, a doctor and a food blogger, always awaits this time of the year. This month, for him, is the highlight of his year – almost close to being a new year of sorts. This year, however, things aren’t the same as he, like everyone else, has had to refrain from meeting his friends and indulging in his favourite foods.

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
For me, Ramzan is a perfect mix of piety and festivities. It serves as a month of strong character development for me every year. But things in 2020 are different; the biggest difference the lockdown has brought in Ramzan is the absence of restaurants, haleem and other delicacies that Hyderabad is famous for. That being said, this Ramzan has also been a revelation of sorts, of the  tasty dishes that can be made at home.

How are you fasting safely during Covid-19?
Fasting is not specifically affected by the lockdown. On the contrary, the lockdown has helped many of us avoid the sweltering heat of April and May by staying indoors, making the fast easier.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month?
It’s a mixed feeling. On one hand, I am missing the unique festivities of the city during Ramzan nights. But the home-cooked food and innovative recipes have been a definite boon.

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
Praying at home is safer. It is not advisable to move around in these difficult times. While we miss the spiritual feel of the mosques, this Ramzan gives us a much-needed opportunity to look within and introspect, working for inner peace.

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement, what are the things you’re missing out on the most?
It’s the friends circle, the reconnections, the spirit of brotherhood that Ramzan brings and demonstrates so visually. That endearing spectacle is something I miss sorely.

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
The festive spirit, as far as annual shopping, markets and restaurants, has definitely taken a hit during this pandemic. It was unexpected, but as a doctor I agree that we must take precautions first, so better safe than sorry.

Do you feel that the lockdown has made you realise the actual, deeper meaning of this month?
With no haleem joints, no Iftar parties, no night markets, it creates very mixed feelings. The lockdown has certainly hit a reset button on our lives, stripping life down to the essentials. In its own way, the lockdown is getting us closer to God, and that is the true spirit of Ramzan. It brings us closer to realise the way our ancestors used to live through Ramzan, which I feel is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How easy/difficult is it to fast while at home, and not during work?
Fasting at home is certainly easier. I have had many Ramzans shuffling between hospitals during summers. Home now feels like a welcome change, but you do miss the way the city used to light up during the month.

What are your plans for Eid?
I am hoping the lockdown relaxes by Eid and I get to meet my family and friends that day. But of course, safety first, so we may get a silent Eid. This year I have plans to try my hand at making sheer khorma, the exceptional delicacy, and post the videos on Instagram.

She dolls up people for a living and is one of the best in her field. For celebrity makeup artist Samaira Wallani, the month of Ramzan has always been a month of mental and spiritual enhancement. These 30 days she dedicates herself to introspection, prayer and grounding.

How different has Ramzan been during the lockdown?
Ramzan during the lockdown has made us value what we have even more. Now, during Iftar we have time to cherish with our families which we don’t otherwise do, due to our busy schedules.

How are you fasting safely during Covid-19?
The guidelines issued by the government and health officials have been helpful and we are ensuring that we eat only home-made food. The meat, fruits and vegetables are being thoroughly washed and cooked. The fasting is the same as it has always been, the only change being that we’re all home, eating home -made food.

Is this lockdown working as a boon or bane during this holy month?
I would take it as a boon. More time to pray, more time for peaceful Iftar, more family time and at the same time an opportunity to learn and up-skill yourself.

Praying in the mosque vs. praying at home…
Prayers are to be done from the heart. Praying in a congregation is definitely special during Ramzan. However, the law of the land is supreme and if it’s for the benefit of the people then praying at home for me is the best thing to ensure that social distancing is maintained. In my opinion, this is an opportunity for the family to pray together.

Now that everyone’s fasting in confinement, what are the things you miss  the most?
Ramzan is a month of praying, seeking forgiveness and doing charity. What I miss is the opportunity to fulfil the giving part with my own hands. Given the situation at hand, the giving has been through the channels of NGOs and the Prime Minister’s fund, which are being used for the benefit of those in need.

How much of the festive spirit has the pandemic dampened?
The month of fasting does provide a lot of opportunity for smaller businesses to make money, as people prepare for Eid throughout the month. It’s definitely taking away from the celebration of Eid in a grand way due to the social distancing norms. It is going to be emotional for people as they look forward to celebrating it with grandeur.

What are your plans for Eid?
Like the daily Iftar in Ramzan, we have chosen to keep the Eid celebration simple, too. There will be sheer khurma, but only for family. At these times, Zoom and other video calling apps have been a blessing, as they let us connect with our extended family.