The vanishing Ramzan customs in Hyderabad

Eateries used to provide curtains to enable people who don’t observe fast to have food in privacy

By Author  |  Published: 27th May 2019  12:53 am
Two decades ago, almost every hotel in the city would put up curtains from dawn to dusk to offer food to those who don’t observe fasting during the month of Ramzan. — Photo: Surya Sridhar

Hyderabad: A few practices associated with the month of Ramzan have vanished over a period of time in the city. Dating back to a decade or so, the holy month would see hotels putting up curtains to provide privacy for customers who don’t observe the fasting during the religious period.

With the sighting of the new moon marking the start of the holy month, the food joints used to cover them with a big red cloth while some would go for tarpaulin covers. The innocuous practice continued for decades at all Irani hotels which used to prepare minimal snacks for the non-fasting people throughout the month-long Muslim festival.

People would quietly sneak into the eatery through the curtain, have a quick bite and move out, everything happening in a hush-hush manner.

“Two decades ago, almost every hotel would put up curtains from dawn to dusk. However, the privacy drapes would be removed at Iftar time. Elderly people and patients, who don’t fast, would visit to have some food as it would not be prepared in the house in the afternoon,” recalled Syed Yameen, of Al Madina Hotel in Bibi Ka Chasma of Old City.

“It was an unwritten rule more so part of the Ramzan discipline. It used to be done to protect the privacy of the non-fasting people during the month of Ramzan. But, nowadays, people have stopped the practice,” said Anwar, a manager at Almas Hotel at Shamsheergunj.

However, the practice is still in vogue in Middle East. In the United Arab Emirates, which has a huge expatriate population from the West, restaurants use curtains to conceal customers who eat during the day. In Saudi Arabia, restaurants simply remain closed during the day.

“Previously, the hotels and eateries used to think that it was indeed their duty to put up a curtain in the month of Ramzan especially in the minority dominated pockets of the city. But now, it is passé. The practice has been done away as the footfall is very less during the daytime in the holy month,’ said Mohammed Khalid, a businessman from Kalapather.