What has been usually seen in Kashmir during the Muslim month of fasting is that the governance structure gets into action weeks ahead of the month of Ramzan to ensure the basic facilities are in order. The power lines are being checked, the tap leaks are being repaired and the markets are brought under the radar to see there is no profiteering. The government even appoints special officers to oversee the issues within and outside the market.
This Ramzan coincided with the opening of Durbar in Srinagar for the summer six months, so there were additional works going on – the drains were being cleaned, the walls on the roads were being painted and the municipal workers were working overtime to ensure the stench that routinely greets the visitor in summer neutralises a bit.
While the institutions associated with the media are doing their bit, what are the faithful doing? They rise late in the morning – to offset the Sehri sleep loss, and spend a longer time in late evening prayers. The month of fasting, in this part of the Muslim world, means slow mode life, slow business and lot of rest. But that is not what Ramzan means to the other Muslim societies.
Unlike most of the Muslim societies where the month of fasting is being seen as a major happening and a good business, in Kashmir it seems a month of punishment. No life stops at 6 pm literally while in the rest of the Muslim world it starts at evening and the markets open late after the special Tarawih prayers. There are a lot of social activities that societies create for the month of fasting.
In the recent past, there were some experiments. A few years back, the state government tied up with various fast food producers in mainland India and invited them for month-long engagement in the Exhibition Grounds. It was a good start. Later, some businesses tried to use government resource and make money. It collapsed. There has not been any effort by the business to do this on a stand alone basis.
Ramzan is the month in which God has asked for restraint. All of a sudden, for 30 days, almost everything Halal becomes Haram during the day.
This restraint needs to go beyond hunger. This has to go to the diversity of social set up where no such restraint is exercised even during the month of Ramzan. The month in which the Quran was revealed is also the month of charity. There is no doubt that most of the Kashmir do a lot of charity in this month and this charity has helped the society create some institution that benefits the distressed and destitute. But this is also important that the society identifies and punishes people who are abusing this month for personal gains. Why cannot these thugs get identified?
It is high time that the Kashmir society starts thinking beyond the tasty Iftaars, spicy Sehri and longer Tarawih prayers. Let the Ramzan feel on the street and in the office too. Why should an official feel the requirement of inspecting a market? This is the other side of restraint that the Kashmir society will have to look into.