Brightly colored saris, hijabs, kufis, and finely embroidered outfits drape the adults and young children as they line the dining room of the Mughals in Norcross, minutes before sunset, signifying time for breakfast during the holy month of Ramadan. Men and women line up for Maghrib prayer, the fourth prayer of the day for Muslims that coincides with daily sunset, just before breaking fast. These group prayers are still a rare sight in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Celebrated by millions of Muslims worldwide, Ramadan comes around once (sometimes twice) a year, corresponding to the ninth month in the lunar calendar. The 29-30 days of fasting from dawn to sunset are spent with friends and family, engulfed in community activities and group Iftar meals (a word literally meaning “breakfast”). And this is the second year Ramadan is being spent largely in quarantine.
Mughals is one of the only metro Atlanta restaurants offering Iftar buffets to the masses. Their banquet hall draped in decor, tables spaced out accordingly, and masks are worn while people greet each other and stand in line to fill their plates with Pakistani and Bengali dishes.
Children now fill the makeshift prayer area, playing tag and creating new friendships that have the potential to last a lifetime. As Muslims, these are the special connections that make Ramadan significant outside of the traditional practices. Without family and community the holiday is quiet, giving us time to reflect on our lives and the significance of the holy month—yet we’re left yearning for that connection and the ability to be physically helpful to those less fortunate. Imagine a 30-day Christmas without family and friends.
If you want to show support for Muslim families and friends during Ramadan, which this year began in early April and ends May 12, consider making a donation in their name—or feed them. Supporting them with food to break fast with, or to enjoy as they wake up before dawn to fuel up for the long day ahead, is a gracious way to make the holiday more wholesome.