“We have always celebrated Ramzan with our family. I cook for everyone and then we break roza in the evening, followed by iftar. It’s the way it has been done for years now,” says Jubeida, a core member of the queer Muslim feminist collective Nazariya.
But this year on 6 June, the women of Nazariya, a collective run by the women’s network SANGRAM in Maharashtra, were in for an iftar with a difference. SANGRAM and Nazariya came together to organise an iftar party just for women, and what a party it was.
We spoke to Meena Seshu, co-founder of SANGRAM, about this unique iftar. “We have been organising iftar parties for the past three years now,” she told us, “However, this year, it is just for women. After the riot between Hindus and Muslims in Sangli, Maharashtra, Nazariya was formed to maintain peace and harmony between Hindus and Muslims, and to empower Muslim women. Dawat-e-Iftar was organised to bring Muslim women together and make them sit down for once and enjoy a party without having to worry about anything.”
It was an event that began with more than 200 women reading namaz. Many of the guests thought that was all the evening was going to be. Aarti Pai, Advocacy Director of SANGRAM told The Ladies Finger, “Many of them thought we had planned to bring them all together to read prayers and they were ready to leave afterwards. We stopped them. After all, it is Dawat-e-Iftar, how will it end without iftar. That made everyone very happy. One guest was in tears seeing this being done just for them.”
The iftar food, of course, was on point — dry fruits, gulab jamun, falooda and of course biryani — but it wasn’t just the food that was exciting for the guests. For many, it was the first time they had attended such an event without their husbands, and many of them found so much pleasure in attending an all-women event and making their way back home at night without men accompanying them.
Jubeida said, “Humne dua padhi, roza khola aur pyaar-mohabbat ka sandesh diya. Ye dawat bhi aman aur shanti banaye rakhne ke liye thi, Islam bhi yehi sikhatha hai. Jab bhi koi bhi prakar ki hinsa hoti hai, SANGRAM unki madad karta hai. Sabse badi baat to ye hai ki, auratein auraton ki madad karti hai. Is hi tarah sare saath aakar kaam karte hain.” (We read prayers, ended our fast and wished for love and betterment of everyone. Even this event was organised to maintain peace and harmony (among Hindus and Muslims), and even Islam preaches the same. Whenever a woman faces any form of violence, SANGRAM stands for her and protects her. The best thing about this (organisation) is, women help other women out and this is how we function as a group.)