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2021 Ramadan in Lahore: A Challenge and a blessing

As the third wave of the deadly coronavirus sweeps across the globe, lockdown restrictions have been refreshed in various cities of Pakistan, including Lahore. While the city desperately clings to the last hope of normalcy by keeping mosques open for the Taraweeh prayer, it is quite evident that Ramadan in Lahore, this year will be starkly different from those we have had in the past. Charity will have to be distanced, togetherness will have to be virtual and the iftari spreads will have to be quieter. Here is a list of few things you can still do during the holy month of Ramadan in Lahore. [Featured Image via IG @unmaderhyme]  

1. Carhopping through Sehri

Watching the entire city magically come to life in the middle of the night, as Lahoris cluttered at their favorite food spots for a fulfilling Sehri meal has truly always been a spectacle to behold. However, this year, due to restrictions placed on indoor and outdoor dining, Sehri celebrations will have to be carhopped! At first, it might sound disappointing, but there are no blues that a plate of food-coma inducing Muhammdi Nihari, or a glass of refreshing Feeqay ki lassi cannot take away. If you want to take a walk on the high street side, scrumptious French toasts and exclusive sehri options are perfect for that velayti (foreign) fix.

2. Iftaar Online

No, this is not the title of a new Ramadan cooking show! Instead, this is how iftar parties will be hosted this year- virtually and six feet (read as miles) apart. As social distancing is being repeatedly stressed upon, it is important to behave in a proactive and precautionary manner. This means that if weddings can be attended on Skype, the real Ramadan togetherness can also be achieved through Zoom Iftar parties.        

3. Pray 6 feet apart

Ramadan is like a spiritual detox and its true essence lies in praying. While public mosques Like Badshahi Masjid and Wazir Khan Masjid are expected to remain open through the month of Ramadan, it is crucial that large, untamed crowds in such public places are avoided. Therefore, it is highly recommended, especially for elders, to perform their prayer activities at home. This is particularly relevant for the evening Taraweeh prayer where it is common for scores of worshippers to head to the mosque for the congregational prayer.  

4. Beat the Rush hour

If you think that the endless stream of traffic on the Mall Road is mind-numbing, then multiply that number by three and that’s how difficult will be the traffic on every road in Lahore, at sunset, near iftar timings. Whether you are rushing to an iftar party or trying to get home, make sure to do so at least two hours before the designated time for stuffing-your-mouth-with-pakoray. This will help you navigate more safely (and calmly) on the road.  

5. Bag a Discount

It is inevitable that malls and other shopping attractions will remain relatively empty this Ramadan, amidst the COVID-19 restrictions. However, the option for online shopping is always available. This idea is particularly tempting for two reasons. Firstly, the pandemic has forced many people to work from home, giving them more time and space to navigate through the websites of their favorite brands. Secondly, near the end of the month of Ramadan, all local and international brands slash prices under the banner of Eid-ul-Fitr sales and discounts. This opportunity is not to be missed. Word of advice, spread out your eid throughout Ramadan to avoid the rush in the last 10days you might get your clothes on time.

6. Be Charitable    

This global pandemic has not only taken thousands of lives, but it has also caused economic disruption in millions of households. The number of people who have lost their jobs during the crisis is alarming. A means of detoxing one’s soul during Ramadan is to spend one’s wealth on charity and not to put a silver lining on the cloud, but now is a great opportunity to do so. One can always contribute to the numerous organizations like Al-Khidmat Foundation, Rizq Food Bank and Edhi Home that are providing free meals to the poor during Ramadan and even throughout the year.   

Above all, this Ramadan, it is important to be truly grateful to God for the life he has blessed us with, to understand that the greatest charity that one can do to his fellow Muslims and non-Muslims is social distancing and to remain steadfast in the face of diversity and difficulty.