With forlorn markets and mosques, the first day of Ramzan in the national capital on Saturday lacked the usual festive atmosphere as people stayed indoors and most shops remained shut in the wake of lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak.
Religious places including mosques have been closed for over a month now. And with clerics advising all to stay home and social distancing becoming the norm, people are unable to get together for prayers and Iftar, a ritual of breaking fast every evening, that are a key part of Islam's holiest month.
"There is a festive mood on Ramzan as people throng the markets and the mosques have increased footfall. But all this is missing this time due to the lockdown and people are keeping indoors," said Burhanuddin, a resident from Lal Kuan in the walled city.
The eateries and shops in old city areas including Chandni Chowk and the neighbourhood of Jama Masjid are normally teeming with not only those observing Roza, but also with food lovers from
other parts of the city.
But only a few shops were open in these areas on Saturday.
"Due to restrictions of lockdown most of the shops are closed. There is also confusion regarding opening shops in the evening hours," Burhanuddin said, adding, "I hope the government will relax the lockdown restrictions so that people do not face hardships in buying food".
Many of the 'Rozedars' (those who observer fast during Ramzan) complained that 'khajla-feni', a staple during this period for 'sehri' (food taken in early hours), is unavailable.
"Khajla (a deep fried food item) mixed with milk amd sugar is a complete diet. But, we are not getting it from shops famous for it like Sri Bhawan near Jama Masjid and Chenaram," said another resident.
As all religious places are closed due to the lockdown, people could not visit mosques for prayers.
"Islam has the option of offering Namaz at home under unavoidable situations. So, people need to stay at home and offer Namaz and read Tarabi(ritual prayers) during Ramzan, by following social distancing norm as there is threat of epidemic," said Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri mosque Mufti Mukarram Ahmed.
Prominent clerics, including Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari and bodies like Delhi Waqf Board have appealed the people to offer Namaz at their homes during Ramzan and follow social distancing and other lockdown guidelines.
"Lockdown itself is a big challenge. With Ramzan it is even a bigger problem as we are unable to go to the mosques. But the situation is unavoidable with coronavirus infecting a large number of people," said Shahid, president of resident welfare association of old city locality Gali Darziyan.
For many, a total halt of commercial and industrial activities during lockdown in the city has also led to financial constraints.
"Ramzan is a pious occasion where we also help others. But, this time many people are facing money problem.
"There has been no business activity for a month, many have lost jobs, besides there are restrictions. So, the enthusiasm and festivities are naturally less this time," said garment trader Asif at Ramesh Park in Laxmi Nagar.
Ramzan is marked by month-long fasting by followers of Islam and culminates with celebration of Eid al-Fitr.