Remembering Ramzan in Iran : The Tribune India

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Remembering Ramzan in Iran

Remembering Ramzan in Iran

Photo for representation. File photo

Sumit Paul

Mahaul kuchh iss qadar badla badla sa hai
Ramzan aur Eid ka mazaa bhi jaata raha hai

(Things have changed quite considerably/The warmth and zeal of Ramzan and Eid have gone slowly)  — Raj Manikpuri

I studied at a boarding school in Iran’s capital, Tehran. My father was forever on the move, and I didn’t have any siblings or relatives around. During the vacation, especially in the month of Ramzan, most of the inmates preferred to go home to observe roza and the school would declare holidays so that the children could be with their parents in the holy month.

Iran is predominantly a Shia country; its religious rules are slightly relaxed compared to those of its neighbour, Iraq. My stay at the boarding school during Ramzan was never an issue for the management or the warden. Moreover, my father requested the school authorities not to impose Islamic traditions on me, as I had no faith in any god or religion. I was the only non-Muslim, rather atheist, student there. 

During Ramzan, a Muslim is not supposed to eat during the daytime, and he/she breaks the fast (roza) only in the evening. Yet, never did I go without food. The school management as well as the relatives of some inmates would bring fresh vegetarian food for me despite their roza. I spent seven years in that Iranian school and never experienced any problem regarding food during the month of Ramzan. No one even remotely suggested that I, a vegetarian, should eat meat. 

The hostel management prepared vegetarian food for me till the time I left the place to pursue higher studies in the UK. Not only that, I would get Eidee (gifts) from my Muslim friends on the occasion of Eid. I would wear gifted clothes and visit my friends’ place for relishing sheer khurma. My Iranian Muslim friends were aware of my sweet tooth. They would stuff me with all kinds of sweets. 

In these times, when Hindus and Muslims are at loggerheads and fanaticism is on the rise across the globe, such heart-warming experiences serve as a beacon of hope for the beleaguered humankind. I remember the goodness of those people with tears in my eyes and recall English poet Robert Southey’s immortal lines: ‘And while I understand and feel/ How much to them I owe/ My cheeks have often been bedew’d/With tears of thoughtful gratitude.’ We still have angels amidst us. All is certainly not lost for humanity.

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