In Pictures: Ramadan in Kashmir - Al Jazeera English

In Pictures: Ramadan in Kashmir

As Ramadan is observed with religious fervor, preparations to mark last phase have begun in India-administered Kashmir.

Showkat Shafi | | Arts & Culture, Religion, India, Kashmir

Religious chants 'Afsoos Aze Gowham Judaa, Aiy Mahi Ramzaan Alvida' - My heart is full of sorrow, Oh! The month of Ramadan, today we part! - are common in the mosques and shrines of India-administered Kashmir during the last phase of Ramadan.

A region that has a majority Muslim population, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar is observed with religious zest and fervour throughout.

"The holy Quran was sent to this world during these last days of Ramadan. Jumat ul-Vida, the last Friday of Ramadan comes in the last ten days, which is the best day of the year," said Syed Rehman Shamas, an Islamic scholar.

In this month, markets in Kashmir are decked out in their festive avatar. Dates imported from different parts of the world sell like hot cakes.

An old saying is that Kashmiris eat more in the holy month of Ramadan than during the rest of the year, so consumption of large quantities of chicken, mutton and fruits in households are natural during this month.

Special sweet dishes like Phirni and Halwa made of ghee (clarified butter) are prepared for breaking the day-long fast.

But, in this disputed Himalayan region, which has been wracked by decades-old conflict, families that have suffered and lost their family members celebrate differently.

The conflict has left the breadwinners of many families dead or missing. Most of these families cannot even afford a basic meal for Iftaar or Sehri (meal eaten before fasting).

A large number of widows and half-widows (wives of the disappeared) depend on alms and the generosity of people during the month which is also known as 'Sharul Mawasaat' - the month of mutual feeling and compassion, says Shamas.

Special prayers are also held during this month seeking the end of conflict and the return of peace to the region.

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