Every evening, Muslims end their daylong fast with Iftar. Usually mosques also have food stalls with selling a number of sumptuous eats
The day during Ramzan starts at dawn with a meal called Suhoor or Sehri.
Muslims end their Ramadan fast (Roza) every evening with prayers (Namaz) followed by a meal known as Iftar. “Usually, we have Iftar food at home itself where family members come together. However, in recent times Iftar parties have gained popularity. Many host such parties at home and in the mosques but the sole purpose of Iftar remains the same which is to end the fast,” says Margao- based Aftab Shaikh.
At the same time, it is also a bonding time for families. “Though Ramadan is a very spiritual phase for us it is also a time when the entire family comes together. All the brothers come together in one home in the evening and feast over the food,” says a senior Muslim. He adds that at times many well-to-do people host Iftar parties in the mosque or their homes where they give food to the poor and needy.
He further adds that many Muslims believe that feeding someone Iftar as a form of charity is very rewarding and that such was practised by the Prophet Muhammad.
Author, Safina Khan Soudagar explains that the timing of Iftar usually depends on the ‘Maghrib azan’. “The time which we follow now is 7:02 p.m. because we cannot really hear the azan for the Maghrib prayers in Goa. So, the mosque gives out a time-table before Ramadan commences.”
The fast is often broken with the consumption of dates as it is considered to be filled with nutrition. “We break our fasts with date and/or water. It is ‘sunnah’ (tradition by Our Prophet). But in case of emergency or if we cannot afford this then we can break the fast with whatever is available. It is advisable to eat light fruits and refreshing drinks to revive the system,” she says.
She adds that the fast has to be broken at the fixed time, a delay is not acceptable. Another important part of Iftar she says is to make a wish. “Before breaking the fast we sit down at the table full of food and make ‘dua’ (prayers). It is believed that ‘dua’ at this time is quickly accepted.”
A plethora of food near the mosque
During the evenings, if you pass by the mosques these days, you can find various sellers selling various food items like kebabs, fruits and nuts, sharbad, haleem, chops, cutlets, rolls and other food items.
Besides Muslims, people from other faith also go to enjoy the Ramzan food. Lyndon J Pinto from Porvorim is one such person who has been going to the mosque to enjoy Ramzan food for close to a decade. “Ramadan is the time when my Muslim brothers and sisters fast, but their sacrifice is kind of my celebration. I do not mean this in a derogatory manner, but it’s just that as they gather to pray and break their fast, I help myself to some of the tastiest foods you can get on a street corner,” he says. He adds that it’s not just the food that is memorable. “The stories of the people who prepare the food and serve it are also truly inspiring. Some have been doing it for years, and their fathers did it before them. Besides, filling my stomach, the meeting of so many different types of people fills my heart with faith in humanity,” he says.
Pinto also illustrated this with a recent incident that happened when he and his friend were at the food court area near the mosque. “A friend of mine paid for a dish but forgot to collect the change. As we were leaving the man behind the counter came running towards us, although we were some distance away, and returned the money. It’s small acts like these that make the food at the mosque so much more than just a gastronomical delight!” he says.
Valencia Da Silva from Ribandar has also made it a point to sample this food for the past four years. “I love the variety of food that they serve and how reasonably everything is priced. Also, they are so accepting and warm to the people of all cultures that come here to indulge in this feast of food. Personally I am very fond of the tandoor items especially the kebabs,” she says.
And indeed, you can find a lot of variation in the food that is served. “I like the huge tawas which they use to fry the food and particularly enjoy the rolls and mutton kebabs,” says Daniel D’Souza from Parra, while Nathan Fernandez from Panaji enjoys the baida roti and says that it’s a treat to relish such food during this period.