Ramadan and Iftar during lockdown
Lockdown is impacting the way people consume food. People are limiting their trips to the shops and cannot always find what they want when they are there. People are having to cook for themselves more than before and be creative with what food they have.
However, for some there has been an additional challenge to overcome: How do you celebrate Ramadan and especially Iftar (the evening meal which breaks the fast) during lockdown?
Here’s how Wafa, an organiser of The World Transformed Festival, describes it: “Ramadan is big time about community and Iftar is at the centre of that. The coolest part of it is you’re synced up with every Muslim across the world, all eating at the same time. It’s a great opportunity to come together and eat together with family and friends.”
Wafa stressed the importance of food saying that:
“Food is such a big part of Ramadan - particularly samosas and pakoras. My Mum is Syrian and dad Pakistani so we usually have quite an amalgamation of food.”
These meals would usually be eaten with family and friends but this year it’s just her and her mum. They make sure to video chat with her siblings to break the fast together but “it’s not quite the same”. As it’s just the two of them they have scaled back the size of their Iftars as “it’s just not economical to have a huge array of food”. She does make sure to cook a couple of samosas every evening “because samosas make it feel like Ramadan”.
Others have found the lockdown more challenging. Matthew, who works for a trade union, is a convert to Islam and in his second year of fasting and said “the lack of my usual routine has made the whole thing much more difficult. Last year having people over for Iftar was good. The Grand Iftar (large community event that takes place in Easton, Bristol) especially helped me as it was something to look forward to and made me feel like I was part of this huge collective effort.”
Matthew has still been managing to celebrate “I’ve had Iftar during a Saturday pub quiz every week and I’m thinking of doing one to celebrate Eid but it’s not the same without people who are also fasting”.
For Wafa, lockdown has really changed the experience of Ramadan. She told me that normally, as a Muslim fasting in Britain, “being a minority where our religious practices are a minority practice, it makes it more difficult for us to conduct them”. However, this year just being with her Mum who is also a practicing Muslim “has made fasting a much more enjoyable thing”. One of the key ideas of fasting, Wafa explained, is that “When you feel that hunger you understand the idea of not having food and think of those less fortunate than yourself. Because of the lockdown I’ve had the space to really focus on fasting because there aren’t other activities going on”.
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