We often find it too easy to hurtle through the days, in an attempt to outpace the bustling city – be it London or Bombay – which always seems to be running away like a steam-engine train on a rickety track.
Occasionally, it does us good to pause for thought, to disembark the carriage and sit on the platform awhile. The next few weeks will see millions of Muslims across India and around the world, from Bombay to London, take the time to reflect, pray and taste the essence of a simpler life. In observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, our Muslim brothers and sisters refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours, devote time to prayer and to the giving of alms. In Islam, Ramadan holds special significance as the month when the first chapters of the holy Qur’an were first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
The morning starts early, too early, when healthy adult Muslims wake and make their way downstairs. First, some eggs, toast or some porridge, perhaps, and always plenty of water to nourish and sustain for the day ahead. Then, recite the morning prayers. The day may be altogether routine: filled with meetings and laughter, emails and quizzical expressions, with small breaks for prayer. But when it is time to return home, when the sun begins to set, the family gathers together. With the bite of a juicy date, that first sip of water upon parched lips, with family and friends and loved ones, the fast is broken and it is time to remember the things that matter. In Hyderabad they eat the traditional Ramadan dish of Haleem – a thick, smooth stew of pounded wheat, lentils and lamb, cooked for many hours and spiced delicately.
The culmination of Ramadan will bring with it a day of festivity known as Eid-Ul-Fitr. Following a communal prayer, Muslims take time to visit extended friends and family, give children gifts of money known as ‘Eidie’. A three-day-long affair in many Muslim countries, new clothes are tailor-made, planned for many weeks in advance. A time to enjoy one another’s company after a month of relative austerity, Eid is a cherished and celebratory affair. Veritable feasts are held and the food is rich – Biryani, rich with saffron, Nihari, steaming with chillis. And of course, Haleem.
In the spirit of reflection, of getting off the train and sitting on the platform awhile, we have some dates set aside for those who are fasting to break their fast (just ask!) And good luck with the rest of the fasting!
The sun is momentarily out again. Calendars are fast filling up. There’s many a thing to do and many a friend to meet. And if we may kindly add to the excitement and the plan-making, here’s our list of what we’re looking forward to in September.
While we were at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, we caught Evening Conversations, an engaging show by Sudha Bhuchar. We caught up with her after the show to talk about her journey and her views on South Asian representation on screen, which you can read below. And for those who didn’t walk down the cobbled streets of the city or stumble into an impromptu performance this year, we highly recommend it for 2024.
Each year as August dawns, the streets and rooms and corners of Edinburgh fill with music, art, laughter and song. Wander into grand halls and pokey pubs, as the morning sun rises or in the dark of night, to see creations of every kind as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In honour of this wonderful celebration of the performing arts (and as a little treat), here’s a special edition Dishoom Loves, covering all the acts we’ve circled on our festival programme.
For anyone looking to learn or read more on Partition, this page holds a series of resources, for all ages, created by people knowledgeable and knowing about such matters. It is by no means definitive – we have simply found them to be useful, inspiring and accessible.