Kolkata: The iconic Tipu Sultan Mosque has, for the first time in its 184-year history, opened its doors for women this Ramzan.
According to TOI the Esplanade landmark has arranged for iftar and evening prayers for women under a temporary shamiana inside its premises, lending a crucial support system that lets them leave home for shopping in the city’s famed central commercial area without worrying about how and where to break their fast and get some shelter from the sun and, right now, the rains.
The shamiana, with adequate lighting, fans and water, has proved to be a huge relief for women working in offices in the central business district, with the masjid authorities providing the iftari comprising fruits, chhola, sweets and sherbet.
“You do not even have to get your own iftari. We will provide it. Just reach the mosque minutes before iftar and take your seat,” Prince Anwar Ali Shah, the mosque’s mutwali (caretaker) and great-grandson of Prince Gholam Mohammad, Tipu Sultan’s eldest son, said.
The mosque was built in 1834 by Prince Gholam Mohammad, when was in exile in Kolkata.
“A lot of women come to Esplanade from far-flung areas for shopping during Ramzan and do not have any proper place to go to when it is time for iftar. Many are forced to break their fast on the road and forgo their evening prayers,” Shah said, explaining the rationale behind the decision.
Women devotees have welcomed the change. Park Circus resident Asma Momin had come to Esplanade to buy essentials on Tuesday. “I was not carrying any food at all,” she said. “The shamiana and the iftari were a godsend,” she added.
Sabrina Yasmin had come to Dharamtala from nearby Wellesley but was caught in the rain; for her, the shamiana provided the much-needed shelter. “It is a great decision and shows the mosque authorities’ inclination to change with the times,” she said. Around 150 women partake of iftar at the Tipu Sultan Mosque daily.
Fasting during Ramzan is one of the five obligatory pillars of Islam, along with the declaration of faith, the namaz, the Haj pilgrimage and giving zakat (an Islamic levy). The conclusion of Ramzan heralds the arrival of Eid, the biggest Muslim festival.