Hyderabad: It’s 6 pm and as the summer sun starts it’s descent, the courtyard of Mecca Masjid, one of the biggest and popular mosque in the country, fills up with both men and women. It is a place that draws crowds from across the city for the soothing and pious ambience it offers to the believers.
On any day during the holy month of Ramzan, about 6,000 people visit the mosque to break the fast in the vast compound. The numbers swell to 10,000 on weekends and special days.
“Breaking the fast in the backdrop of Mecca Masjid is something we cherish. The ambience is soothing and similar to that of grand mosques across the world,” says HJ Azam, a sales executive.
Farooq Taher, a school teacher says at least once in Ramzan, he visits the place along with his children after Asar prayers and spends time till Iftar. “You get to meet new people coming from far off places to break the fast. We share our food with strangers and it gives a feeling of oneness,” he says.
Many come from as far as Gachibowli, Kondapur, Uppal and Medchal. Those in the city staying with relatives for Ramzan and those coming for shopping from adjoining States of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, drop in at the mosque.
Khaja Nayeemuddin, superintendent, Mecca Masjid says they provide clean drinking water, daal and dates. “We have a limited budget and whatever possible we provide. Most of the visitors carry their own eatables to the mosque and we ensure the place is cleaned up before 6 pm prayers and mats spread,” he said.
Families sit in groups with dates, fruits, and dahi-vadas waiting for the siren to go. A hush falls as everyone get engrossed in prayers. Special arrangements are made at the mosque for women to break the fast and offer namaz.
Scores eke out living
Scores of small-time traders run their livelihood by selling eatables around the Mecca Masjid on any day.
Petty vendors sell neatly cut pieces of fruits while there are others who prepare mirchi, dahi wada, pakodah, etc. Then there are vendors offering small packets of dates for Rs 5 and those who sell skull caps and headgear to visitors to the mosque.
At the entrance, there are a couple of persons who apply ‘surma” to your eyes and charge Rs 5 while some women inside the mosque sit and guard your footwear if you pay them any small amount of money.
“At least 50 to 60 persons offer services to visitors at Mecca Masjid and earn their livelihood through the month of Ramzan,” said Yousuf, a member of Masjid committee.
Restoration works in full swing
Mecca Masjid, the 16th century mosque is undergoing restoration with the State government allocating Rs 8.5 crore. The Telangana Heritage Department with the help of a private agency are taking up the conservation works of the mosque.
So far works on the Maqbara and courtyard in the mosque were done apart from replastering the walls and relaying the roof. The works on the madrasa were going on when it was stopped due to Ramzan and will resume after the month ends.
The department has also invited tenders for various works in the mosque, including plumbing and electrical works to be undertaken. The State government for the first time had taken up the conservation works of the mosque. Sultan Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the VIth Qutb Shahi ruler had laid the foundation for the mosque.