Fasting, but feasting at a cost this RamadanAugust 22nd, 2009 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS
By Sarwar Kashani
New Delhi, Aug 22 (IANS) Last year Yousuf Anwar of Jamia Nagar in Delhi used to buy Gulf-imported dates at Rs.150 a kg for iftar - a ritual to break the day-long Ramadan fast. But this year, he says, the costs have doubled - a bitter pill during the festive month.
Many traders and devotees in the national capital are fearing that the soaring food prices, particularly of fruits and vegetables across the country, will make Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting, an expensive affair.
The month of fasting begins Sunday in the sub-continent except for Kerala where Muslims began fasting Saturday.
As the month-long festivity begins, which traditionally is one of the highest periods of food consumption among the Muslims, people of the community are wondering if they would be able to enjoy the celebrations with the usual fervour due to high prices.
“Last year, I used to get a kilo of imported dates for about Rs.130-150, but today (Saturday) I was told that the same dates now cost Rs.300,” said Anwar, 39, an employee with a private firm.
“Ironically, my salary is less as compared to last year while the prices are higher,” he said
“What a paradox. It is like killing somebody with a double-edged knife,” Anwar rued, as many like him expressed fear that the global inflationary trends would put added pressure on Muslim families during Ramadan.
A stroll down the markets revealed that the prices of fruits and vegetables is high, which sellers as well as buyers said contradicts “media claims” of declining inflation.
“Why has the dropping inflation - which is negative these days - not translated into lower food prices,” asked Taha Siddiqui, 21, a student who was stocking up on Ramadan necessities at a market.
“Meat and chicken prices are up at least 10-20 percent. Nothing is going down,” she said as she bought a kilogram of mutton for the first sehri - the pre-dawn meal which Muslims take during Ramadan after which they refrain from eating or drinking till the sunset.
“Look, I bought pears for Rs.80 a kg, half a kg of lemons cost me Rs.35. I didn’t dare to buy apples because they cost Rs.120,” said Siddiqui, who is a student and lives with her family in Abul Fazl Enclave of Okhla village.
Fruit and vegetable vendors are also ruing the high prices, which they say has resulted in low sales this time.
“Why would anybody buy apples for Rs.120 a kg if they cannot afford it. I have just sold one kilogram of apples since morning. People are not just buying,” said Raashid Khan, a fruit seller.
Muslims prefer eating dates for iftar - the first food after the daylong fast - and drink lemon juice to quench their thirst.
“I don’t think we can have the luxury of buying lemons every day this year,” Anwar said, adding that even sugar prices have gone up to Rs.30 a kg from Rs.22 last year.
The crisis has affected the Ramadan budget of many Muslim families.
“Ramadan specialties are bound to take a hit,” said Siddiqui and wondered what the government was doing about it.
–Indo-Asian New Service
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