Song, verse, friends and spicy treats on the eve of Ramadan in Birmingham

Excitement and happiness were palpable as the women gathered at Aston’s Saathi House ahead of Ramadan, sharing food, stories and plans for the month ahead. The event, Thursday March 31, was organized by the team running the Saathi House project, a place focused on empowering women, girls and migrant communities in the city.

Shamsun Choudhury, project coordinator at Saathi House, was a whirlwind of enthusiasm as she urged visitors to delve into the incredible variety of dishes and join in the singing. “Ramadan is just a wonderful month for us.

“Now is the time to reflect, to fast, to pray, to do good deeds and to try not to do bad deeds,” she said. “We wanted to come together today with some of those who use our services and supporters to celebrate together.”

Read more: Ramadan 2022 timing for prayers, fasting, suhoor and iftar meals

The women sang a traditional song and shared poems, while enjoying a feast of traditional Bengali, Pakistani, Indian and Yemeni dishes, from curried pakoras to daal dates. Among the visitors was Birmingham 2022 project assistant Shah Begum, who spoke about the importance of integrating the Commonwealth Games with the community.

New mum Ferdowshi Hussain, 29, was with her four-month-old son. “For me, Ramadan means peace. It’s a time to get together with family,” she said.

“We all have busy lives, normally everyone is at work, comes back at different times, but during Ramadan we all get up together at 4am to eat, and that gives us that family connection. brings us closer to our God.

“The best thing (about Ramadan) is that you remember it more and appreciate everything we have in life.”

Some of the women who attended the Ramadan Eve celebrations at Saathi House in Aston

Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, with all food and drink, even water, not taken until nightfall. Said Ferdowshi: “When you fast and don’t drink all day, you appreciate every drop of water and how much we take for granted.

“It’s amazing when you break your fast, the table is full, everything is there in front of you. But we remember that there are many people in the world who are fasting, but they have no food to break. their fast.

“They have nothing. We enjoy being in a warm house, with a table full of food, surrounded by our families.”

Pictured are women from the South Asian community at the launch of Birmingham's Ramadan celebrations at Saathi House, Aston, with cultural food and arts and crafts
Pictured are women from the South Asian community at the launch of Birmingham’s Ramadan celebrations at Saathi House, Aston, with cultural food and arts and crafts

She said her biggest challenge would be making sure she prays on time during Ramadan as she juggles a newborn baby. “It was very difficult to make time to pray on time, to prepare food, anything really, even to have a few minutes to go to the bathroom,” she laughed. “Any new mum will appreciate that. So it will be a challenge for me.”

Nasima Begum helped prepare the food for the event. “Our Ramadan is a peaceful and holy month.

“We pray, give zikat to the poorest in other parts of the world and locally, and seek to give. The first two or three days of fasting are difficult but we get used to it.

“It’s hard for the workers and for the young people, and when it’s hot, it’s tough.” She said that as a diabetic and because of her asthma, her doctor advised her not to fast during Ramadan because of the health risks.

Farzana, who is a henna artist, decorating a hand
Farzana, who is a henna artist, decorating a hand

But she tried to fast intermittently, as much as her health allowed. Farzana, 20, said Ramadan is a time when she gets together with her parents and sister to fast and be together.

“When we get together in the early morning, that’s a motivation we can overcome. It’s a long month. My parents taught me that it’s a month to give and be kind to others, and be more grateful for the little things I have.

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“The hardest part is having the right mindset to complete your prayers on time, which is a great reward you earn during Ramadan, praying the holy Q’ran and receiving lots of blessings. I I have a 20 month old baby, so last year was very difficult to achieve my goals, but she’s a bit older now, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

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