Lockdown dampens the Ramzan spirit

City COVID-19 Food

With eateries shut down, foodies miss their favourite fare in Fraser Town, Shivajinagar

Bengaluru: A deafening silence welcomes visitors to the previously smoky, crowded roads in Fraser Town and Shivajinagar where people jostled with each other and the traffic to find the perfect food stall during Ramzan.

Farhat Atchia, who works for a digital media company, informed The Observer: “I miss the food stalls on Mosque Road. Malpua and halwa puri are my favourites, but for past two Ramzans, I couldn’t get any of these.”

Bengalureans are missing the festive atmosphere as they are staying indoors, because most shops are shut in the wake of a two-week lockdown imposed by the state government due to the second wave of coronavirus.

Ramzan celebration has been affected for the second time since the pandemic started.

Abul Khair, an HR assistant in Amazon’s sales department, said: “It’s the same as last time. It is our most favourite and beloved time of the year. Our celebration and enjoyment are limited.”

Multiple street food stalls in Fraser Town have remained closed since last year. Owners of brick-and-mortar restaurants say they are incurring losses. The situation is worsened by people not ordering home delivery.

Khalid Ahmed Sharif, the owner of Charminar Kabab Paradise, Mosque Road, said: “Only 20% business is happening since last year. It does not look like Mosque Road anymore. We had to lay off 70% of our staff. And due to the lockdown, 3-4 of our chefs have also gone back home fearing stringent restrictions like last year. We are unable to offer delivery of all the items on the menu.”

Food stalls are flocked not only by those observing roza – an act of fasting during Ramzan – but also by food lovers from other faiths. “We have a special menu only during Ramzan. A lot of my non-Muslim brothers call me and say they are missing our food,” Sharif added.

In Fraser Town, a few food shops have been asked to shut down completely, even restricting takeaways.

Abdur Rehman, the owner of India Chai, said: “We’ve been asked to shut down completely by the police and BBMP because of the name ‘Chai’. They think chai is not essential, but chai is only a part of our menu. Our revenue has depleted to negative.”

Rehman said he is unable to lay off workers as he has to train new employees after the lockdown. He faced a similar difficult situation last year. 

Mosques have been shut in the wake of the lockdown. With clerics advising people to stay home, they are unable to get together for prayers and iftar, a fast-breaking ritual in the evening.

“Our masjids are the centrepiece of our community. Their being shut again saddens us. Every masjid was adhering to social distancing; it was safe enough,” Khair said.

Rozedars, people who fast during Ramzan, say it’s a relief that essential services are open in the morning. 

Ameena Firdose, who works in Amazon’s cloud computing wing, said: “Thankfully, shops are open from 6 to 10am. We can stock up what we want, especially fruits, as it is must for us after we break our fast.”

For many, a halt of commercial and industrial activities during the lockdown has led to financial constraints.

“Ramzan is a time of giving. With a limited income, it becomes a little difficult to help others,” said Farhat Atchia.

A few Muslim associations in the city are providing food and health services.

Shamsudeen Koodali, a media spokesperson at the Malabar Muslim Association Office Bangalore, said: “We are providing rice, dates, sugar and other rations to poor people as food fests are not allowed now. We are trying to help in all possible way.”

Ramzan, which is marked by month-long fasting by the faithful, concludes with Eid ul-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking the Fast). Muslims hope the lockdown will ease before Eid.


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