Ramadan in UAE: On Mother’s day, Abdul misses his mom during Iftar and Suhoor

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Dubai - The supermarket employee also gives a glimpse into another tradition back home - nombu-thura.

By James Jose

Published: Sun 9 May 2021, 6:53 PM

He stands behind the cash counter, checking in the items and then packing it. Sometimes, he takes turns with his colleague in assisting customers with their grocery and Iftar items.

While a majority of the large expat population here in the UAE are lucky to be with their families during Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr, Abdul Marzook says he misses his Mother very much during this time.

And while many have Iftar with their families, Abdul, who works at a 24-hour supermarket in Al Nahda, Sharjah, has Iftar with the other staff, thousands of miles away from his family. The staff take turns to go for prayers, so as to not affect the workflow. This is the sacrifice he and many like him make so that you and me can celebrate Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr with our loved ones.

The 25-year-old hails from Kasargod district in the Indian state of Kerala talks about his two-year stay in the UAE, especially during Ramadan and Eid, and how it used to be back home.

“I used to work in Ernakulam (in Kerala). After every six months, my employers would give me one month leave. During Ramadan, I used to be in my hometown in Kasargod. And the real spirit and feel during Ramadan is when you are with family,” says Abdul.

“During Ramadan at home, it would be sumptuous home-cooked food cooked by my Uma (mother). After coming here, I miss my Uma and her cooking. Uma’s kaipunyam (gift in cooking delicious food) is different. There are a variety of dishes and snacks which are served piping hot, during Iftar back home,” he adds.

“After Iftar, we usually have beef and ari pathiri (pancakes made of rice flour). During Suhoor, we normally have rice or kanji (rice gruel) just before the prayer call. Kanji is healthy and keeps you going through the day when you are fasting. Sometimes, there is fish fry,” Abdul says.

The supermarket employee also gives a glimpse into another tradition back home - nombu-thura.

“Iftar is a celebration, and we have the nombu-thura in every home. During that time, we invite our family and relatives and give nombu-thura. It is not just the family members or relatives, but we invite everyone - be it Hindu, Muslims or Christians and also the poor. It is the virtue of giving and it is considered a blessing to feed the poor. But now, due to the pandemic, we are unable to carry on that tradition,” he says.

“I miss my family so much, especially during Ramadan and Eid. I also miss my friends. Now, it is tough to stay in touch because everyone is busy dealing with this pandemic,” adds Abdul.

Abdul, who puts in a 13-hour shift from 9am to 10pm says iftar here in the UAE comprise of fruits, sherbet and some snacks.

“During Iftar, we are at work, so we normally cut fruits and I prepare a Kasargod-style sherbet, which includes watermelon and milk. It is very good during the summer, and it cools the body. We sometimes have some snacks. My iftar is with the staff here and if customers are there at that time, they too are invited to join us in ending our fast,” he says.

“Once I’m back to my room, my mother calls me. She also misses me a lot. She asks me every day how my iftar went. And I tell her that I miss her cooking and the dishes she prepares,” Abdul adds.

Abdul, who is the eldest of three siblings and the sole breadwinner, longs to be with his family for Eid, but his wait continues as this year there are only one-way flights to India, and Kerala is in the midst of a full lockdown. .


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