Ruben, an Australian christian/athetist became Abu Bakr after he converted to Islam. Whilst researching about different religions what struck his mind and heart when he first visited a Mosque was a huge congregation of people of different races and colors, praying in unison to One God, hearts and bodies in oblivion to the differences that exist. Such Grand is the Religion of Islam, he thought and converted to Islam. Later he came to know that it was the first night of Ramzan. Ramzan, a holy month in the Islamic calender witnesses a huge rush of people to Mosques, praying for the forgiveness for the sins they commit through-out the year gone by and for the sins they are going to commit in future.
Kashmir is not different to the scene around the world. We begin our preparations days before for the Holy month in our own grand fashion keeping in-view our appetite, the eggs, babr’e buil, butter, fruits and even cigarettes for smokers get stocked up in our store rooms. The fervor of Eid at the end of Ramzan sets the children all excited about fasting with a meal in the afternoon called particularly in Kashmiri as “Tap’e Sahar”.
The day begins with “Sahr Khan” beating his drum in the streets and singing hymns and chants to wake people up. This is a particular custom in Kashmir and people hold “Sahr Khans very dear and noble. At a time when Kashmir is loosing many of its traditions and custom, we still hold this tradition in fervor, even though “Sahr khans'” role is played by alarm clocks.. For most of the people waking up for this meal becomes a war between sleep and Sahr and eventually if Sahr wins, it would be in the last frame of time. From then on it is just a job of filling up your stomach- as much as you can, gulping every bit of the bread and stuffing the mouth with an egg while the “mu-azzin” calls for Azan, which means no more eating and drinking for the rest of the day till he again calls Azan at dusk.
Owing to the excitement and chaining of the Satan, the first few days see a phenomenal attendance at all the five times of prayer and all of a sudden the people become pious and complete followers of Islam, some shunning cigarettes while others refrain from watching movies. At the evening prayer people sometimes take out sweets and other dishes into the mosques for people to break the fast which of course drives more attention and even duhl khaavs (those who don’t fast), pretending to be fasting come to mosques to break their beguiled fast with all the pabulums available. After almost half of the month it seems the Satans loosen out of the chains and escape to delude people from their religious ardor. Skipping few days of fast on one pretension or the other and omitting the four prayers, one prayer at the time of breaking the fast never looses the flow of people because of the free confectioneries available at Mosques.
The Satan by now seems to regain its strong hold – divide and rule policy. The prayers in the night called “Taraweh” become his point of division which culminates into people abusing each other and, if Ramzan is in winter, it sees fire-pots (Kangrees) flaring from one group who believe that “Taraweh” involves 8 “rakats” of prayers to another who believe that they are not less than 20 Rakats. However, as the Ramzan reaches the end, the faith and piety again take a leap during the night of “Shab-e-Qadr”. The brotherly between all the sects behavior gets restored and the numbers in the mosques surge, all in unison, praying to One God, seeking His forgiveness for the sins committed in the Ramzan and asking for good health till next Ramzan so as to rectify our misdeeds during the current Ramzan.
Ramzan finally ends with the chanting of “Alvida ai Mah’e Ramzan” and preparations for Eid-ul-Fitr. The children get all the options to choose and buy new dresses and toys which they showoff at the Eidgah during the special prayers of Eid. The sermons during the eid include a lot of greetings and wishes and advises- advises against burning fire crackers. As soon as the Imam finishes the Eid prayers children run away to their hideout filled with stocks of fire crackers. The loud bursting crackers by children announce the commencement of Eid. After the advises of Imams subside the adults join the children and the Kashmir air smells of War.
Published By The Kashmir Walla on August 20, 2013