July 2, 2022
MUMBAI: Sakina Begum from Kharghar near Navi Mumbai has just finished shopping for Eid at the Nakhuda Mohalla and neighbouring Crawford Market in South Mumbai.
Hardly 10 minutes are left for breaking the fast when she enters the gate at the ground adjoining the All India Memon Jamat Federation office off Mohammed Ali Road. Here Begum joins a group of other women shoppers awaiting the muezzin’s azaan call for maghrib or evening namaz. The azaan call also announces time to break the fast and all women and a few men begin eating the Ramzan delicacies, the volunteers of the Federation gave them a while ago.
These women are neither beggars nor have they received prior invitation. They came to the iftar the Federation has arranged for mainly the women who come for Ramzan and Eid shopping at markets in the locality as they don’t have a proper place to sit and break their fast. The many mosques in the area do have arrangements for iftar, but it is availed by male worshippers as most mosques don’t have facilities for women to pray.
“Fasting men who are not at home for iftar visit mosques and break their fasts. But women find it very difficult as mosques don’t have separate arrangements for them to pray. We started this iftar for women a couple of years ago but had to skip in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic-induced lockdowns,” says Federation president Iqbal Memon Officer. He adds that utmost care is being taken in preparing the iftar boxes.
So, apart from fruits and dates, the boxes also carry snacks comprising samosas, bhajiya, sweets. Each rozedar is also given a bottle of cold water to quench their thirst.
That the Memons accord huge respect to women was also evident on April 11, the World Memons’ Day. Minutes before guests, including some eminent citizens from different walks of life, sat for iftar, deputy chairperson of the women’s wing of All India Memon Jamaat Federation, an umbrella organization of 500 Jamaats in the country, Farida Agboatwala was requested to hoist the community’s flag outside the Federation’s office.
The women office bearers of the Federation are excited to arrange iftar for women. “This was badly needed as these women would earlier break their fast in trains, buses or rickshaws,” says the Federation’s Women’s wing chairperson Razia Chashmawala. She adds that several schemes aimed at uplifting women and helping widows have been started by the Federation. From ration to clothes, pension for widows to free homes to the poor, the Federation runs several schemes to help needy women.
Iftari for women who come to South Mumbai for shopping is yet another positive step the Memons have initiated to help women.