Ramadan in UAE: This Indian Hindu expat has been fasting during the holy month for 30 years

Experiencing long spells of the flu earlier this year, he had almost given up on the idea of fasting this Ramadan – but a day before it began, he changed his mind


Ashwani Kumar

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Published: Wed 19 Apr 2023, 4:35 PM

Last updated: Wed 19 Apr 2023, 4:43 PM

A non-Muslim Indian expat based in Umm Al Quwain has been fasting for 30 days of Ramadan for more than 30 years. His spiritual discipline during the holy month is so strong, that on Vishu – a spring festival observed on April 15 mainly by Hindus from his native state of Kerala – he had his traditional afternoon ‘sadya’ (feast) after iftar. This sincerity, dedication and determination are traits Vidhyadharan Ereuthinad developed from his childhood.

“I grew up in Thiruvananthapuram hearing about two religious fasts: one is the 41-day ‘Mandala Masam’ dedicated to the Sabarimala Ayyappa (a Hindu deity) and 30 days of Ramadan,” said Vidhyadharan, who landed in the UAE all the way back in 1982.

The Malayali expat treats all religions equally, and has a frame each of the Hindu deities, the Holy Kaaba, and Jesus Christ, all adorning the walls of his room. However, there is no particular reason as to why he began observing Ramadan rituals.

“After a decade here, I felt settled in my life by 1991-92. Since most people around me were observing Ramadan, I too joined. Until then, I was only fasting for 41 days of the Sabarimala season.”

While there is great curiosity among the general public whether this Ramadan will be 29 or 30 days long, Vidhyadharan remains largely unconcerned.

“I have always fasted for 30 days mostly because back home, Eid will fall a day after it’s celebrated here. For that reason, I will do a full 30 days,” said Vidhyadharan, the 67-year-old who has remained unmarried and dedicated his life to social work, mainly repatriation of dead bodies and other charity work.

Photo: Iftar distribution held in Sharjah
Photo: Iftar distribution held in Sharjah

He operates a travel agency along with other partners. His Ramadan routine is very simple: wake up by 7am, pray, go to office, break his fast with dates, fresh fruits and water, a small vegetarian meal after a few hours, and then a light dinner by 10pm, but no suhoor (pre-dawn meal).

In between, he will spend time at the Indian Association in Umm Al Quwain, where he is a managing committee member. He has been taking part in iftar distributions carried by the association and other forums this month, and always gives his biryani kit to others.

“I prefer being a vegetarian. Occasionally, I may have fish but no meat. My food habits have been very modest since childhood. I was a farmer; I have fought poverty. Months like Ramadan help you to maintain that self-control, modesty and discipline in life. I have mostly remained healthy.”

However, experiencing longer spells of the flu earlier this year, Vidhyadharan had almost given up on the idea on fasting this Ramadan. But a day before the start of the holy month, he changed his mind.

“I simply couldn’t resist fasting. My body wanted me to fast. I don’t know if it’s a spiritual calling, but I am happy that I am fasting for yet another Ramadan. I wish everyone [would fast], as it will make you a better person, and also, you cut all your negative thoughts. It will help spread the message of peace and love in the world,” Vidhyadharan added.


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