A decade ago, Eid-ul-fitr did not mean much more than a day-off to me. After a couple of years in Mumbai, Eid and the month of Ramadan preceding it meant another excuse to feast! While the Muslims fast and practice abstinence in this month, most others take it as an excuse to do exactly the opposite of it. All of us have at some point made a trip to Mohammed Ali Road, some of us have been lucky to be invited for a home cooked iftaar. And those who are too lazy, have satiated themselves with iftaar special meals at Mughalai restaurant or even at Mc Donalds! (it seems Mc Donalds has an ‘iftaar-special Burger’).
The much-awaited Eid-ul-Fitr is here, for the muslims it is a time to celebrate as they count their blessings. The rest of us could take this as an opportunity to appreciate more than just the delicious food! The Dargahs and Mosques in Mumbai add baroque elements to the city’s landscape. Head to one of these to admire the architecture, to pray for barkat (prosperity) or just to get some sukoon (peace):
Haji Ali Dargah
One of Mumbai’s most recognised landmark. You have spotted it in a Bollywood film and admired it from a distance every time you visited South Bombay. Haji Ali Dargah situated in the middle of Arabian Sea, 500 yards from shoreline is popular among people of all religions and tourists from all over the world.
The pathway leading to the Dargah is swarming with people on Eid somehow adds to the magnanimity. The structure consists of a slim minaret and the tomb of the Saint Haji Ali. Once you are inside, look out for the detailed mirror-work interspersed with 99 different names of Allah.
Address: Walk down from Mahalaxmi Station on Western Line
Jama Masjid, Kalbadevi
Literally translated, ‘Friday Mosque’. Situated near the bustling Crawford Market in South Bombay, Jama Masjid is the largest and oldest mosque in Mumbai. The current mosque was reconstructed in 1775 and since then there have been several additions to its structure, including a school that imparts free secular and religious education to Muslim youth.
The structure is a quadrangular building encircled by a ring of terraced roofed and double storied buildings. The main eastern gate of the masjid leads to an ancient water-tank containing about ten feet of stagnant water, filled with gold and silver fish.
Getting there: Cab or a long walk from Charni Road Station on Western line
As Eid gets closer, it gets more and more difficult to navigate through food stalls, BMWs and LOT of people on gastronomic trips to Mohammed Ali road. What stands apart and almost overlooks the chaos in the Majestic Minara Masjid.
The vertiginous green minarets are hard to miss, they add to the baroque architecture that can be seen along the entire stretch of road. To enjoy the architecture and feel the tranquility, one should skip the evening risk and go early morning instead.
Getting there: Walk down from Masjid Station on Central Line
The oldest Dargah in Mumbai going back at least 350 years, this is the Dargah of the Secular Sufi Saint Makhdoom Ali Mahimi. Interestingly, the Dargah also houses the tombs of his mother, his maid servant and his pet goat. Architecturally, this is the only Dargah in Mumbai with 5 domes.
Apart from Eid, this Dargah attracts many visitors during 12-day festival in December every year to commemorate the Qazi. Lakhs of devotees throng the place to enjoy Sufi music, qawwali, religious poems, lectures and other such activities in conformity of Sharia laws.
Getting there: Walk down from Mahim Station on Western Line
The more I learn about Mumbai, the less I feel I know.