June is a wonderful month. It’s when the rains begin. It’s when the summer heat begins to cool. It’s when joyful festivals like Eid and Ramadan are celebrated with much feasting and fanfare. To experience Eid in full glory, the most recommended places are big cities like Lucknow, Hyderabad, Delhi and Mumbai. But how about having an offbeat Eid experience? Where there are sights to see, friends to be made, and special local delicacies to be had. Here are our favourite offbeat places to experience Eid in different flavours.
Ajmer is home to the beautiful shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a saint revered not just by Muslims but also by Hindus. Eid celebrations begin at the first light of dawn with the opening of the Jannati Darwaza, an enclosure with elaborately carved silver shutters. The belief goes that you will be assured of a place in heaven if you walk through the door seven times. Listen to memerizing sufi music performances at the dargah and take a walk along the lanes near the dargah. Visit the fine Soniji ki Nasiyan Jain temple with its splendorous architecture and suspended golden boats built in the late 1800s. Move on to the historical 12th century Adhai-din-ka-jhonpra mosque built from the remains of temples. Finish with some mouthwatering Eid-special kababs.
Hari Mosque, pic courtesy CityShor
Visit the beautiful Masjid-e-Qoatul Islam (Variavoli), a 200-year-old one-pillar mosque in Rander where thousands offer prayers on Eid even today. Known for its intricate carvings, this beautiful mosque has withstood nature’s fury in many ways including earthquakes, floods, and cyclones. The Vohras, a community of Muslim traders who made millions by trading in teak in Burma since ancient times, have made Rander their home for centuries and this is where you come for the best feasts during Eid. Walk around Rander and you can many of the old homes that still stand strong on Burma teak. End your stroll with a visit to the famous Ramadan Bazaar, which began in 1938. Sample some Rangooni paratha or some khausa, one of the most well-known specialties of Rander, a dish comprising noodles, chicken, and vegetables in a coconut based sauce. End with the special durian ice cream made by the Rander Muslims.
Come to Mangalore and you will immediately notice a certain charm about the place and its people. Filled with beautiful, sandy beaches, Mangalore has a lot of history to explore and unique experiences on offer. Mangalore is home to the Beary (or Byari) Muslim community, whose practices are a blend of Malabar and Tulu cultures. On Eid, they hold singing and dancing competitions along with the very special folk duff performances. Visit the 7th century Zeenath Baksh Masjid in Bunder or the unmissable Hazrath Saidani Bibi Dargah, the only one to be dedicated to a woman saint. Walk through the markets and make sure to sample some of the delicious Eid special street dishes like mutton haleem, al faham or chatti pathiri.
North Malabar, Kerala
Eid is celebrated on the scale of Onam across towns in North Malabar like Kannur, Kasargode, Calicut etc. where the bulk of the Muslim population resides. On the first sighting of the moon, the festivities begin with prayers. There are oppana (traditional folk dance) and mappilapaattu (traditional devotional songs) performances put on by the Mappilahs, the traditional Muslim community in North Malabar. Bazaars heave with exuberant shoppers and restaurants and roadside stalls teem with people waiting to try out Ramadan specialties. Try out some of the Malabar iftar specialties like arikkudukka, a dish of stuffed mussels, unakkai, a sweet dish made of ripe bananas, and erachi puttu which is rice cakes stuffed with meat. And, of course, no feast in Kerala is complete without biryani!
Indore is home to the Bohra community similar to Rander in Gujarat. Indore is well known for making food a distinctive part of its culture and for its markets selling delicious snacks late into the night. During Eid, these markets bring out unique, must-have iftar specialties. Simply hop from market to market and stall to stall to sample delicately flavoured sherbets, chilled desserts, mutton tikkis, and hot and thick-layered haleem. Don’t miss the Ramadan special sweet samosa that is coated with caramel and stuffed with dry fruits.
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