It is the holy month of Ramadan. Dhaka has bloomed up and has worn a completely different picture. The roads are filled with ‘Iftaar’ shops and the other shops are offering attractive discounts. People are all gearing up for celebrations. The government has declared a month long holiday for the schools and colleges which of course eases a lot of traffic in Dhaka. The roads are almost empty during the day but suddenly get filled with people in the evening when every family comes out to eat, shop and indulge into other festivities.
Every morning people wake up to the melodious sounds of Azaan and start getting ready for the day. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is distinguished from other months as participating Muslim people refrain from eating, drinking and sex from dawn till dusk in this month. It is believed that observing Roza (Fast) helps them in purifying themselves and also teaches them endurance, patience and helps them to understand pain and hunger, according to some of my friends.
The Muslims also pray more than normal times during this month. A special Namaaz called Tarihi is performed every day. During the day they observe fast and refrain from food, water. The fast is broken every evening at dusk by a ritual called ‘Iftaar’ where people gather together and eat and then offer Namaaz.
The fast of course is not easy as people are not even allowed to drink water, not even one’s own saliva. Thus, it needs a lot of dedication to perform the same. Therefore I decided to understand what exactly drives them to observe such a tough fast. I decided to interact with various people in this regard. And the interactions were really interesting and startling too. Thus, I decided to share the same….
A development professional speaks: I started the conversations with a colleague. He is in mid-thirties and has been working as a development professional since 15 years. When enquired on his reasons of observing fast
“I don’t particularly observe Roza but as my mother in Law is here I am forced to observe Roza. And also I have a family and a young daughter now, thus I feel the urge of keeping one for the well being of my family.
What does it mean for a young Manual Laborer? A construction of huge apartment building is going in the plot right next to my office. And some of the wage worker reside there and work. I have befriended a few of them. Most of the times after the afternoon lunch at office, I go and visit them (which of course is also the time when I smoke). I decided to ask the same question to one of them-my friend named Iqbal. He is in his twenties, average body built with sunken eyes. He tells me…….
“It becomes very tough for me to observe Roza but I still do. We sleep every night at 1 a.m. in the morning as we are mostly talking with friends and gossiping. And by 3.30 we have to get up and then start cooking and then eat and get ready for the day. I can’t get enough of sleep and have to work the whole day”
Aktarbhai, another worker who was in late fifties was till then quietly listening to our conversation decided to speak up. He says,
“Observing Roza gives you strength and you can feel a strange sense of satisfaction through the same”
A self proclaimed Leftist speaks ups: “Roza is supposed to be observed for spiritual reasons but today it has succumbed into the capitalistic structure. Today, it is all about consumerism. We are suppose to eat less during Ramadan but if you observe closely the consumption of food go up way higher than normal times during Ramadan, which is ironical. Prices of clothes and other food item touch sky rocketing heights and shop keepers take it as an opportunity to increase prices as they never decrease the price even after the Ramadan is over. And also there is a pretentious competition among the elites in purchases either it be for Iftaari items or for EID”
I asked him if he observes Roza. He gave me a confused and perplexed answer.
Allah’r kaaz korle ki oshubida hoi….???
I had taken the rickshaw in the middle of the night to go back to my place after visiting a friend. As I was alone I decided to strike a conversation with him. In our conversation he revealed that he was feeling very weak and will immediately go back home after dropping me off.
‘Aapni ki roza rakshen…..???? I asked him.
He gave an affirmative answer. I thought may be it was the reason. Thus I asked him if it is a problem to keep Roza (Fast). He looked at me and asked me Allah’r kaaz korle ki oshubida hoi. (Why should there be a problem doing Allah’s task?) He was of course, angered at my question. I decided to stop the conversation right there.
END NOTE: Though various reasons interplay with each other which influence people to observe Roza, we can rightly claim that one reason is cross-cutting across people i.e. religious and spiritual. The development professional, construction worker, the self proclaimed leftist or the rickshaw puller, all of them were drawn to observe fast as they feel a deep sense of satisfaction when they observe Roza. There of course has been complains that Roza is not the same any more, but the purity of the same still remains and it continues to influence a lot of people. Changes have come in the way Roza is observed but it still draws people closer to Allah and gives them a meaning in their life.