India is an intricate mosaic of diverse faiths, beliefs, traditions, and languages all of which harmoniously coexist under the balmy canopy of the core human values of compassion, decency, wisdom, and so forth.
Food is an integral part of any culture has the power to promote the basic tenets of plurality among the masses. Someone has rightly said that ‘you have to taste a culture to understand it. Hence when we travel for food, not only do we look forward to satiating our taste buds but we also intend to make wonderful cultural connections through the vibrant and inspiring tales and experiences that accompany it.
So in this episode of our Ramzan food tour in Bhopal, we bring you a heartwarming recollection of our sweet memories from the Sath Sath Roza Iftar, an open Iftar organized by the Iqbal Maidan Roza Iftar Committee at the Iqbal Maidan premises.
During Ramzan, the Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset. Iftar is the evening meal with which they break their daily fast or Roza. It's usually a light meal comprising of fruit, snacks, water or any sweetened drink. The food is eaten together with family, friends, and strangers.
On reaching the beautiful, cobbled precinct of the Iqbal Maidan, we were welcomed by the festive spirit of the surrounding. The sight of the neatly arranged rows of tables being laid out by the enthusiastic volunteers and that of the genial faces of the visitors waiting patiently for the feast to start filling our hearts with joy.
For the past three years, this laudable initiative mostly involving the local youth aims to send out the message of unity in diversity, universal brotherhood, interfaith understanding, and harmony, by inviting people from all walks of life, irrespective of religion, culture, gender, and social status, to join each other for the shared meal and prayer. Inter-faith dialogue and understanding is a very important dimension in the context of pluralism as it leads towards love and happiness.
It was so inspiring to see people coming together over food to interact, listen with an open heart and discover each other in a new light. When we share food with a stranger he doesn’t remain a stranger anymore. Respect and companionship take the place of prejudice and judgment and we arrive at a viable consensus on basic spiritual values that touch every human heart and further general human happiness.
As the Iftar ended, the crowd dispersed for the evening prayer or the Maghrib. We stacked all the pleasant memories of the experience in our mental hard drive and set forth in search of more scrumptious food across the city. After a brief amble, we reached Zafran Chicken Fast Food at Budhwara Chowk to try one of their popular and unbelievably pocket-friendly dishes, the Chicken Tikka Biryani. This mildly spiced rice and fried chicken preparation garnished with crisp fried onions and chat masala was indeed very delicious and distinct. The day culminated on two soulful notes, one was the mesmerizing experience of togetherness at the open Iftar and the second was the complacent smile on the face of the biryani seller at Zafran who knew that he had served joy on that plate. Sincere thanks to our host Hashim Bhai for all these pleasant revelations.