Everyone has a pretty great idea about how Muslims observe and celebrate Ramazan
We fast and anxiously await iftar time to get done with our rozay
We indulge in certain guilty pleasures, because we really need to find out ke bike kis ko mili hai
We tend to get a little pissy on the streets from time to time, but that’s mostly because we keep looking forward to the food
However, have you ever wondered what Ramazan is like for the non-Muslim inhabitants of our country?
People who don’t have to observe the religious tenet yet have to navigate in a society that is quick to cry “blasphemy” even if you sneeze incorrectly, according to some. So we got in touch with a few members of the various communities within Pakistan. Talking to MangoBaaz, each of them explained what being a non-Muslim is like within the month of Ramazan.
Brendan Noronha, a 22-year-old aspiring chef from the Christian community talked about how Ramazan affected him and his family.
“Every year, when it’s for people around us to fast, many changes take place. We get to go to a lot of Iftar plans, which is great. Because you know – food. And I personally love dates, so Ramazan is a really great time for me because there are khajoor everywhere. However, we can’t eat or drink openly because people start staring or glare at you in disapproval. That gets a little uncomfortable, and we end up feeling guilty about it. I’ve lived in Pakistan my entire life, so I’ve always observed Ramazan with the same level of respect that I would any other religious tradition. My family and I stay indoors if we have to eat. But other than that, all’s good. I also want to take a minute to thank whoever invented Rooh Afza. I love it and I love how much of it is present everywhere during Ramazan.”
Noshirwan Gazder, a 22-year-old member of the Parsi community and a future doctor, was next in line to talk about Ramazan for non-Muslims.
“The community obviously respects the fact that this month is Holy for Muslims. Honestly, I can’t imagine what it’s like to go without food and water for such an extended period of time. I tried to fast once and just four hours into the fast, I felt the need to grab some water. However, Ramazan does get a little dry for us. We can’t really go out to eat. I still remember: if I ever ate food or drank water in school, I’d get death stares. Once, I got scolded by my teacher, even though I was eating in a corner.”
Sooraj Golani,* a 24-year-old member of the Hindu community who is studying abroad to become an engineer.
“I love Pakistan, honestly. But I’ve faced a lot of backlash for eating in public. I have never meant to disrespect anyone’s religion, but was accused of the same by many who took to taunting my religion as a retort. Being abroad, I have friends who are Muslims and they fast in Ramazan while some of us go out to eat. It’s not a big deal. However, back home, log kaatne ko parhte thay. I miss Pakistan, but we could do without the intolerance, to be honest. It’s not even an isolated incident. My uncle was publicly slapped for eating in Ramazan. We don’t want to harbor resentment, but things happen that make us feel reluctant to step out of our houses during Ramazan.”
Talking to the non-Muslims within our country, it makes us question if maybe, in some ways, we’re not doing justice to our minorities. Though these are just three individuals, they come from families that have a great deal of respect for our culture. Have they not been born and raised in a country that is as much theirs as it is ours?
Cover image via: christiansinpakistan.com