Head to the Minara Masjid and Muhammadali Road in Mumbai for a real feel of Iftar brotherhood. The place is one of the busiest in the country where thousands converge to break their fast and enjoy a great deal of open-hearted camaraderie. The place has a tradition of tolerance and belonging.
The masjid in Mumbai is one of Islam’s oldest places of worship in India. The mosque and the streets are steeped in the history of several centuries. The whole place gets lit up several days ahead of the Ramadan. Lamps of all hues brighten up the mosque and the streets. When the mosque usually wears a sober look on all days, with only a few faithful lining up for prayers, it chokes on believers and friends when the season of fasting begins. Minara Masjid is so revered a place that folks from other states descend on the place in hordes to take part in Ramadan prayers once the fasting begins.
Traders and cooks whip up all the stuff up their sleeve to feed the hundreds who come to partake of the delicious food. Some come early in the evening to buy food with which to break the fast, while others are happy to sit by the mosque and enjoy breaking their fast. Minara Masjid knows no caste or class difference. Students, job-seekers, the employed and the blue-collared blend and bond over prayers and food. What draws the crowds is not only Minara Masjid’s piety but also the fame of the myriad varieties of food sold on the streets. The magic of the streets lies in the fact that they serve Iftar food of your choice. You only have to name it. Most of the delicacies were born and polished up in Minara Masjid’s streets. That’s why the food here is so special.
The aromas of a thousand dishes fill the air along with the smoke that whiffs out of the small thattukadas. With vendors shouting out their ware, you are easily lost in the sights and smells of Minara Masjid’s food streets. Chicken kebab, kebab pav, mirchi bhajia, kheema parotta, rumal roti, faluda, samosa, chicken rolls, carrot halwa, maalpoha…..the list is endless.
The place is a beehive of activity from noon to the wee hours of the day. But a few moments before the fast is broken, the place comes to a moment’s standstill. It then bursts into a flurry of activity with hundreds lining up the place inside the mosque and the streets waiting to dig into their favorite dish.
This is a sight to watch. It’s truly a picture of unity in diversity, when people of all faiths rub shoulders and sit down to sup together. The rich and the poor, the lowly and the lofty are all alike here as they wait for the muezzin’s call to end the day’s fast. Steeped in tradition and piety, the faithful break the fast and partake of the Iftar food. Hoteliers serve food for free to those waiting outside. After all, the spirit of Ramadan lies in sharing and giving.