Hyderabad, April 3
After a gap of two years, the Muslim holy month of Ramzan began on a cheerful note on Sunday with the usual hustle-bustle returning to the markets in this historic city.
With Covid-related restrictions no longer in place, the excitement was in the air with the sighting of a new moon on Saturday. The fasting began on Sunday.
As the sirens blared announcing the sighting of moon Saturday night, Muslims headed to the mosques in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and other towns in Telangana and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh for prayers.
After 'Isha' (daily night prayers), the devouts offered special namaaz called 'Taraweeh' during which the entire holy Quran is recited by 'Huffaz' (those who have memorised the Quran).
The biggest gathering was seen in the historic Mecca Masjid near Charminar. The mosques were spruced up and illuminated. Big gatherings were also witnessed in historic mosque at Public Gardens in the heart of the city, Darulshifa mosque in the old city, Azizia Masjid in Mehdipatnam and scores of other mosques.
Hectic activity was seen in markets and neighbourhoods as people purchased the essentials to prepare for the first day of fasting. The fasting began with 'Sahr' or pre-dawn meals followed by 'Namaz-e-Fajr' or first prayer of the day.
The holy month in 2020 was completely overshadowed by Covid-19 pandemic. The mosques were closed due to ban on congregations while the markets were shut due to lockdown.
Last year, the celebrations were low-key due to various Covid-related restrictions. The spirits were dampened in the last week with the Telangana government imposing a lockdown to check the spread of the pandemic.
Now, with no restrictions in place this year, the dazzle has returned to festivities.
"I thank the Almighty for blessing me with another Ramzan in my lifetime. It's a great feeling to offer the prayers in congregation and also move around friends without any restrictions like wearing of mask and social distancing," said Syed Mohsin, a student.
Fasting, the third of the five tenets of Islam, is obligatory for all adults except those who are ill and travelling. During the fast from dawn to sunset, they refrain from consuming food or water.
Hyderabad, with a large Muslim population and a distinct culture, comes alive during the holy month every year. Shopping continues till late in the night with people tasting lip-smacking dishes including the season's favourite 'Haleem'.
The worshippers throng the mosques for prayers till around midnight. The activity resumes in the wee hours of the day with people waking up for 'sahr' or pre-dawn meals followed by the morning prayers.