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For smokers, 15 hours of tobacco draught, means it becomes essential to have that last drag before their fast begin.

(Photo: Ahmad Belal)

Eat, Pray, Sleep, Repeat: Ramzan Nights in Delhi’s Zakir Nagar

After sehri, the bustling streets of Zakir Nagar go into a deep slumber, only to wake up and prepare for Iftar.

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As a voice through the loudspeaker asks everyone to hurry up and finish the sehri – the pre-dawn meal before the commencement of the roza – Kareem quickly takes his cigarette up to his mouth for that last divine puff. “Bhai, jaldi kheech lo, meri cigarette jal rhi hai, aur mai jane wala hu, azaan ka waqt ho gaya hai, mera roza shuru ho jaega (My cigarette is burning, and it’s almost azaan time, take the photograph quickly, my fast is about to start),” said Kareem before heading for the Fajr prayer.

For Muslims who fast in the holy month of Ramzan, waking up in the middle of the night or staying awake till early morning to eat sehri and offer namaz is not unusual.

What they do in these early hours is what we’re about to find out:

Ramzan is considered the most pious month in the Islamic calendar. Muslims all around the world believe that one good deed (neki) in this month is equivalent to 70 good deeds. Muslims all over observe fasts from dawn to dusk to mark this dutiful period. The fast starts with an azaan (call) for Fajr prayer, and it ends with an azaan for the Maghrib prayer.

Fasting in this month is not just about restraint from eating and drinking, but also from all ill-deeds that are prohibited in Islam. This month's main purpose is to focus on your soul, rather than the body, and it provides a golden opportunity to reconnect with your faith.

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Delhi’s Zakir Nagar glows with festive cheer all through Ramzan, or as Muhammad Zulfaquar, a resident of Zakir Nagar, puts it:

This locality never sleeps during Ramzan. After iftar (a meal at dusk), a heavy crowd launches out for shopping for the next Roza or for ‘Eid’, with barely any space left for people to stand.

The huge crowd remains out and about till the next sehri. Muslims believe that Prophet Mohammad had said that’s "there is a blessing in" the sehri meal.

Let's take a look at various kinds of eateries that serve different dishes, from nalli nahari, beef kebab, kebab parantha, chicken tikka to kheer, feni, kesar milk.

On average, a fast in India last for 15 hours, but in some countries like Greenland, it can last up to 21 hours. To sustain themselves for that long, it is important for people to be a little health-conscious and eat healthy food that will keep them running throughout the day.

After the Fajr prayer, the bustling streets of Zakir Nagar go into a deep slumber. Some believe that the idea of sehri was to start your day early, but a lot of people just go back to sleep after eating sehri and offering Namaz.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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