A year ago around this time, on a sudden impulse, wanderfool and I hopped onto the yellow line of Delhi Metro one afternoon, and went to Chandni Chowk. At first we got caught up in the alleyways and just hopped from shop to shop, not buying anything, just taking in the hustle-bustle of the vendors, the fragrance of sweet and fresh ‘jalebis’, the sight of glitzy garments, faux stone-cut jewellery, and ribbons and shoes and bags and what-not! It was crazy frenzy all around and I’m sure it’s the same the whole year through!
Soon enough both of us were overwhelmed by the place and my friend suggested we visit the Jama Masjid close by. I had never been there, so I agreed at once! As we made our way towards the Masjid, we realised something was going on… wanderfool told me she had never seen so many stalls along this way, selling fresh and dry fruits, water bottles, ‘chaadars’, incense…and then it dawned on both of us at the same time – we had unwittingly chosen a fantastic time to visit the Jama Masjid – it was the month of ‘Ramadan‘ and pious Muslims from all over the city would congregate at the cardinal mosque of Old Delhi, say their evening prayers at dusk and break their day-long fast by partaking in the ‘iftar’.
Climbing up the stairs, as I walked up to the majestic entrance, I was overcome by a feeling of my insignificance in this world. The sheer sight of the multitude of people of all ages who were present at this shrine of faith and belief, humbled me beyond words. We brought out scarves to cover our head in reverence, took off our shoes, and entered the pious courtyard. People everywhere! Some praying, side by side, in neat, synchronous rows. Others preparing for the iftar, laying out plates, glasses and food. Yet others, paying service to their fellowmen, serving out water to all and sundry. The sun was just setting and the evening glow made the Jama Masjid look even more glorious. We hung around for a while, taking in the sights and sounds, sometimes smiling shyly at strangers…
As it began to grow dark and we decided to leave, I took with me a sense of harmony within. Even though I am not a strong believer in the Almighty myself, it felt strangely comforting to see so many people around me who had a stronger sense of faith. Very soon, it would be Eid, and Delhi would erupt in celebration.
Today, a year later, as I sit in a different country and reminisce about that evening, I cannot help but smile. Eid Mubarak, my friends!