Corona lockdown silences Dhaka’s iftar parties, markets

Dhaka, April 26 – For the first time in centuries, the Chawkbazar Iftar Market in old Dhaka fell silent on Saturday as the government extended general holiday and imposed strict restriction on movement of people to curb the spread of coronavirus. Gone are also the ceremonial iftar parties that used to be organized by social, political and cultural organizations across the country in the month of Ramadan. Community centres, Party houses and hotels which in the past used to beam with iftar parties in the evening have all fallen silent. Some hoteliers have only introduced takeaways and home deliveries on orders on a limited scale.
The people are by and large following the lockdown restrictions imposed by the police. Muazzins of mosques of Dhaka City debar devotees from coming to say prayers on congregations and advise them to do the same at their residences by maintaining social distancing.
Officegoers and businessmen find the restrictions as an opportunity to have iftar with their families. In the past, they seldom had the opportunity to be back home at iftar time and had to break fast at their places of work or ceremonial iftar mohfils.
Every year during Ramadan, thousands of people thronged the traditional iftar market in front of Chawkbazar Shahi Mosque to purchase iftar items that include fancy items like ‘Boro Baper Polay Khay’, kebabs, different types of biryani and Shahi Jilapi.
Coronavirus shutdown came as a shock to the businesses and customers alike. The scene was similar at all other iftar markets in the capital as the police enforced social distancing.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) said no hawker or cart will be allowed to sell food or commodity in the market area or footpaths.
For Chawkbazar resident Arifur Rahman, it is a strong blow. He has been setting up makeshift shops at Chakwbazar with Iftar items for the last 30 years.
Iftar item vendor at Bangshal Abul Hashem said he set a makeshift shop beside the Najirabazar square road Saturday afternoon but police vandalised it.
“If the government allows us to sale Iftar items before evening, then we can earn some money,” he said.
Hashem said police vandalised shops after 2 pm. But iftar time was 6:30 pm. He requested extending the time to keep shops open until 6 pm.
Old Dhaka resident Habibur Rahman said he went to buy Iftar but did not find any shop open.
“I bought fruits at higher prices. A kg apple cost Tk150 while it was Tk120 two days ago. The price of dates has also increased. We have to eat to survive,” he said. – News Desk with UNB
– News Desk with UNB