Shades of Ramazan
By Arsh Azim
Muslims wait for Ramazan in order to purify their souls, and learn how to be patient, modest, and spiritual. The purpose of fasting is to demonstrate submission to God, as well as meet the needs of the hungry. Meals are served with enthusiasm during suhoor and iftar, and eaten with families.
Pukhtoons follow their own traditions in Ramazan. They have their own cultural mores, which they adhere to very strongly and pass them on to their children, who follow the same pattern. This is impressive because currently many people have lost the colours of their culture and don’t even know what their elders used to do on special occasions.
Here is a taste of Ramazan, the Pukhtoon style!
Pukhtoons love to eat and hence there are varieties of items served in iftar. They are meat lovers and are partial to mutton and beef; hence, meat is used with all kinds of vegetables. At times, tikkay are also served with meals depending on the family’s choices. The Pukhtoons don’t make separate arrangements for dinner and serve everything at iftar, including roti. Shami and chapel kababs and pakora are a must at iftar, along with chatni. Paneer (cheese) pakoras are mostly preferred by many families.
Strange as it may sound, rice is a must in suhur because without rice (plain or pulao), a sehri seems incomplete, especially to those belonging to Swat and northern areas.
Once in a week, jalebi is also served because Pukhtoons love sweets. In sehri, a paratha made of desi ghee is served along with vegetable curry, yogurt and tea.
Other sweet dishes like kheer are cooked on daily basis in the housholds of people belonging to Hazara, Abottabad, Peshawar and the nearby cities. Fruit chat is also served but it is mostly the sweetened one.
Exchange of food:
I have noticed that the neighbours send the newly cooked food item to each other. These dishes are usually related to their village. The exchange of food is very common in Peshawar city and is considered as one of the most important practice in Ramazan, especially by the women of the family.
Pukhtoons offer taraweeh and take their children along and tell them about the importance of taraweeh and its ajar in this month.
The women don’t offer their taraweeh in the mosque, but offer these prayers at home while almost all men go to the mosque. The women usually avoid going out to the masjid because they are mostly confined to their homes, but there are few families that allow their women to visit the mosque in the last ten days of Ramazan. Fortunately, things are changing now and the cultures are being blended with one another.
Generosity and charity:
It is a belief among the Pukhtoons that if they donate more in Ramazan, they’ll get more ajar (reward) as compared to the rest of the months. They have been following this practice since ages. Iftars for the poor are arranged by several families to continue the tradition of charity.
The last ashra:
It is the time when even the youth sit in aitekaf because they are inspired by their elders and mostly utilise their last three to ten days in ibadat (prayers). They dedicate their selves completely to salah and khatam-ul-Quran and feel pleasure and satisfaction in it.
Ramazan is one of those months for which we wait for the whole year. In this holy month, we get the chance to clean our souls and purify ourselves. This time, I pray that it passes with the same enthusiasm. Happy Ramazan to all readers.
An article about Ramzan in Us.