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  Volume 5 | Issue 33 | August 21, 2011 |


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Iftar Spirit on Campus

Salman Rob

Photo : Kazi Tahsin Agaz (Apurbo)

Students have a wide variety of food to choose from for iftar.
Students buying iftar munchies from Chawkbazaar.

"Tonight, we are reminded that Ramadan is a celebration of a faith known for great diversity. And Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America. A sunset dinner was arranged by President Jefferson for his guest because it was Ramadan, making it the first known iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago." -- President Barack Obama, at an iftar held at the White House.

It's not just here; Ramadan is celebrated around the whole world. And like the President of the United States believes, all Muslims around the world know that this is the month where we are reminded of all the great diversities.

Ramadan in Bangladesh is more like a month of celebrations. Everyone is always in a hurry to either get the Jilapi before it is finished or get the crunchy Piyaju before the crunch goes away. The mood of Ramadan is just amazing. But what happens inside all the campuses? What do the students do? Well, that part of the celebration just goes on to another level, especially for students who are staying inside dorms and halls. Iftar parties are like a daily thing for the students. And the ones who do not stay at the dorms are also invited, so it is fun for everyone! Religion does not even matter during iftar. It is a time when you sit down with your close ones and just cherish the moment, and that is the spirit with which students across Bangladesh celebrate this month.

Ananya Sikdar (Lopa), an MBA student of Jagannath University talks about her iftar experience, "The atmosphere here is really great. Different groups of students are doing different things for iftar and I never feel like an outsider because of belonging to another faith. I even go out with them for iftar and sometimes even bring some back to my dorm room so that we can all eat together later. A few also cook but that is very rare and when they do, I am always up for offering a helping hand." She adds, "There is a place here called the 'Central Maat', a field where different groups of students gather for iftar and just eat and enjoy the moment by hanging out and sharing each others stories of how iftar is cooked back at home." Lopa concludes by saying, "Other than all this, we also have iftar parties organised by different departments and the get-togethers are really great. The fun part is that we also invite our faculty members to the iftar parties to spice everything up. Sometimes our 'Alumni's from Dhaka' are also invited to join us for iftar, so overall the parties are always fun. Mostly for iftar the menu is the regular-- boot, chhola, jilapi, beguni, muri, halim and everybody's favourite... the LEBUR SHORBOT!(Lemonade)."

A dorm room iftar 'celebration'.
The amount of food served for iftar is almost overwhelming.

The actual campus iftar celebrations are mostly happening outside the capital. Dhaka University (DU), BUET and only a few others have enough dorms for students to live the Ramadan life on campus in the city. A student from Dhaka University, Saroar Zubair Ratul, tells us about his Ramadan experience on campus. "We are all divided into individual groups before iftar. Roommates usually partner up and go out to bring iftar, and that is what my roommates and I do as well." Ratul adds," Since there are a lot of options for iftar for us to buy in the area, students do not use the canteen much except for sehri and they would rather go out to places like Chawkbazaar, Chankarpool and Polashi for iftar. The ones who have iftar on campus usually have it at Carzon Hall or in their dorm rooms. One of the favourites for iftar is the halim. Among my friends, that is something we can not have iftar without." Ratul concludes by saying, "I actually prefer going out with my friends somewhere for iftar where afterwards we can sit and have the shahi jilapi plate after plate and just talk for hours!"

The student iftar stories are never ending. A group of students from BUET shares how they arrange an iftar party in their dorms. At first everyone contributes an amount of money for the iftar and 2 or 3 people go out for the hunt. When it is a party, they have their own style of celebrating. A vast menu starting from the regular iftar items to special items like 'Boro baaper polai khai', 'khashir raan' and a lot of full grilled chickens are not just available but also very famous amongst the students. The shopping is usually done from Chawkbazaar where you can find almost anything that is eaten during iftar. The whole place is filled with different stalls selling different types of items and people are buying items non-stop, a spectacular view if not seen before! Another student suggested that the best time to go to Chawkbazaar for people who do not like traveling during the day due to traffic is after 3 am when people are usually wide awake for sehri. The place is a haven for food addicts, where many of the stores open at around 2 am or 3 am.

The Essence of Iftar

Any iftar, no matter how many delicacies available, is absolutely incomplete without the regular piyaju, jilapi, chhola, beguni and the different kinds of vegetable boras and kebabs. Whether at home, in your dorm rooms or in your university cafeteria with your friends, these munchies are always favourites of majority of the students as they are known to be the true essence of any iftar!

Photo: Saroar Zubair
Photo: Saroar Zubair

Allauddin Sweetmeat is one of the shops that are famous for its morning breakfast and the best part is that they stay open before sehri, which is perfect for food lovers during Ramadan. So students who are brave enough to wake up at 2 am and go to Chawkbazaar just for the sehri, are a few who might think of going there again sometime within the week. Since it is too crowded at iftar time, having sehri late at night could be more convenient for some.

What is happening inside the private universities? Sadly, this Ramadan seems to be going very hectic for the whole bunch since most of the private universities did not change their class timings for Ramadan. Hence, most of the students are always in a rush to go back home but very few can, since all the classes end somewhere around 6 pm and considering the traffic, many stay back and have iftar on campus. Universities like North South University, Independent University of Bangladesh and others serve regular iftar to students and they also have other fast food and set meals like burgers, hot dogs, fried rice and different types of curries for students to choose from. A wide range of food is always there and the students are not missing out on some delicious iftar with friends outside campus!

As we approach the end of the ever-so-awaited month of Ramadan, we celebrate with our loved ones everyday, regardless of race or religion. It is the month when people from all over the world come together to celebrate their well being , whether in the confines of their own homes…or their very own university campus!

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