Express News Service
DELHI: In an attempt to provide a more wholesome understanding of the Muslim culture, DelhiByFoot Adventures, a heritage and touring agency from Chandni Chowk has been organising a number of Iftar walks around Delhi-NCR during the holy month of Ramadan. Their recent walk titled ‘Sukoon-e-Iftaar Walk’ was organised on April 23 evening at the Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, Nizamuddin West.
Founded in 2011 by East of Kailash-resident Ramit Mitra along with Jaya Iyer, the organisation attempts to connect both the local Delhiwala and the visitors of the Capital with the myriad stories that make up this city whose legacy goes to the 13th Century.
A mix of heritage and food
At 5:00pm, the seven participants traversed the bylanes of the Nizamuddin Basti on a journey to discover both the significance of this 14th Century shrine and the hidden secrets of Ramadan food.
“I feel there is a lack of understanding between communities in the country. As an organisation which believes in India’s shared heritage and cultural legacy, I think it is very important for us to address all the festivals that occur in the city. This is a way of bringing people together to celebrate a festive occasion, irrespective of their religious backgrounds,” shared Mitra, who was also leading the walk.
The exploration covered a number of smaller monuments around the area such as the Urs Mahal, where the death of the Saint is celebrated and the Chausath Khamba, a mausoleum created by Mirza Aziz Koka for his family, before converging at the Dargah for iftar and evening prayer.
Speaking about choosing Nizamuddin as a space to host such a walk, Mitra elaborated, “This is a space where one of the largest gatherings happens during this month. Nizamuddin is not just an iconic shrine; I feel there is a certain mystical charm to it that brings people together as a community.”
Along with the narrating the history, the participants were also introduced to iconic Ramadan dishes such as Dhoodh Pheni, a drink made with fried vermicelli, dry fruits, and milk and usually had as the last meal before fasting and Haleem, a one-pot meat dish that forms a wholesome meal for Muslims during this time, among others.
A cultural connect
Situated in the Nizamuddin West area of Delhi, the Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah was built by Mohammad Bin Tughluq following the death of the Sufi Saint in 1325. Over the years, the place has been visited by devotees and pilgrims.
Paying homage to the same, the walk let the participants immerse themselves in the ritual of Azaan before witnessing hundreds of devout Muslims break their fast at the Dargah with the food supplied by Syed Ajmal Nizami and his family, who are the custodians of the space. Nizami shared, “Today our fourth Caliph Maula Ali was martyred so it is a very special day for us. We try our best to give as much back as possible.”
The walk concluded with a special Iftar platter prepared for the participants by Zaika-e-Nizamuddin, a women self-help group from Nizamuddin Basti supported by the Aga Khan Foundation. Serving classic Ramadan dishes such as kebabs, keema samosa, dry fruit ladoos, seviyan for dessert, and RoohAfza with basil seeds to wash it down, the walk was overall a wholesome compilation of the Ramadan.
Jacklyn Qunlian from Canada, who has been living in India since October last year, mentioned how learning new things about heritage spaces was nothing short of an adventure for her. While witnessing the breaking of fast at the Dargah during sundown, she mentioned, “I love how all the families break their fast together. Eating together makes it such a community endeavour. It is quite beautiful.”