Hyderabad: The old city of Hyderabad came alive and a festive atmosphere prevailed in other Muslim majority neighbourhoods in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh as the holy month of Ramadan began on Friday.
The activity began on Thursday night with the devout offering 'namaz-e-taraweeh' or special prayers at mosques. Huffaz (those who memorise holy Quran) led the prayers.
The fast began on Friday with 'sahr' or pre-dawn meals. Sirens blared from mosques to wake up people and again at 4.10 a.m. to mark the beginning of the fast.
Muslims abstain from consuming any food or water or engaging in sexual relations during the fast, observed every day from dawn to sunset.
This year in Hyderabad and surrounding districts, it will be nearly a 15-hour long fast as the 'Iftar' (breaking of fast) time is 6.58 p.m.
The streets in old city of Hyderabad and other Muslim-majority neighbourhoods in the city came alive with huge congregations at mosques for 'namaz-e-taraweeh' on Thursday night.
People were seen greeting each other on the beginning of the holy month. Mosques were decked up and illuminated.
The historic Mecca Masjid near Charminar, Shahi Masjid Public Gardens, Jamia Masjid Chowk, Masjid-e-Alia Gun Foundry, Azizia Masjid and other mosques witnessed huge congregations.
Special arrangements were made at some mosques and function halls for women to offer prayers. At some function halls, the prayers were held late for the convenience of traders.
Shopping of groceries and other items for the month continued till late Monday night. Many families prefer to do their shopping for 'Eid' before the holy month to avoid rush and spend as much time as possible in prayers.
For Muslims, who constitute about 30 percent of Hyderabad's nine million population, Ramadan is a month-long festival. The city witnesses unprecedented economic activity during the month.
The historic city with a rich Muslim heritage comes alive during the holy month. Almost every hotel sells lip-smacking 'Haleem', a dish preferred by the people after 'Iftar' or breaking the fast.
The eateries in the old city, Nampally, Mehdipatnam, Toli Chowki, Masab Tank and other areas do a brisk business.
Truck loads of dates and fruits are sold every day. The old city never sleeps during the month as shopping continues till the early hours of the day.
Like every year, the government has made special arrangements for Ramadan to ensure uninterrupted electricity and water supply and provide other civic amenities.
Telangana Deputy Chief Minister Mahmood Ali said the government has sanctioned Rs.5 crore for Ramadan arrangements.
A festive atmosphere also prevailed in Muslim neighbourhoods in Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Adilabad, Mahabubnagar and other towns in Telangana.
Muslim employees in government offices have been permitted to return home at 4 p.m., an hour before the scheduled time.
In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, the government has sanctioned Rs.2.5 crore for renovation of mosques for the holy month.
The chief ministers of both the states greeted Muslims on the occasion of Ramadan.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in his message said that the fasting during Ramadan not only purifies the soul but also has immense health benefits.
He noted that Muslims during the month offer special prayers, recite Quran and help the poor and the needy.
His Telangana counterpart K. Chandrasekhar Rao in his message greeted Muslims on the beginning of Ramadan. He wished for prosperity and development of the community.
Muslims constitute 12.43 percent of Telangana's population of 3.51 crore. They constitute 6.92 percent in the five crore population of Andhra Pradesh.