An Hour at the Mosque: A Ramzan Diary

Slices of life-affirming experiences during the breaking of fast at one of India’s largest mosques

The Date Seller and the Girl in a Hijab

As she heard the call from the mosque, the young girl — in a loose blue salwar and a black hijab, with a sweet joy on her face that’d belie that the owner of the face had been on fast for almost twenty-seven hours — wished to buy a few dates to break her fast. The old date seller with a dervish-like demeanor refused her money. It was a beautiful moment of humanity, when the girl, embarrassed and blushing, tried to return all but one date, while the date seller insisted that she keep it.

Faith, Family, Food

The courtyard plotted with large colorful mats. Women and men rested on their knees, with prayers on their lips and piety on their faces. Little boys ran through the human maze, the young mother tended to her baby, and the teen girls clicked selfies. Families perched around platters of watermelons, mangoes and bananas, chickpea salads, batter-fried vegetables, meat dishes, and bottles of water. The fragrance of attar, the aroma of well-cooked meat, and the sweet smell of summer fruits co-mingled under the canopy of faith and the joy of companionship.

Under the Ramzan Moon

Under the Ramzan moon, the emotions and the expressions of every man, woman, child were at their purest. Those were among the most sincere smiles, banters, and actions I’ve witnessed.

A Thousand Prayers

I did not pray. But amidst the thousand prayers around me, I experienced the bliss and benevolence of the spiritually charged moment.

Strangely, I felt at home among a thousand strangers.

Epilogue: Religion, Civilization, and Human Experience

It is here, among these thousands of people — congregated to break the fast, commune and partake in a meal — that I find my greatest faith in human civilization.

Isn’t this a representative moment of civilization? Isn’t this among the most life-affirming moments? Isn’t this among the grandest ideas that we humans have ever known? Wouldn’t it be a loss to our human experience, if one day we are to lose these traditions without a sufficient replacement?

With these thoughts on religious traditions and experience, I walked towards the northern gate of the mosque, profoundly grateful for the higher experience while still trying to make sense of it all.