Shoppers, the faithful returning from mosques, techies heading home from IT hubs, and families throng the dozens of food joints serving piping hot haleem. Heavy traffic, illuminated shops, and crowded hotels and eateries give one a feeling that it is day time. And this is not the old city. So, the situation in the famous markets around the historic Charminar can well be imagined.

With only days to go for Eid-ul-Fitr, Ramadan shopping in this historic city with a rich Islamic heritage has reached a feverish pitch. While the city witnesses unprecedented commercial activity during the entire holy month, it hardly sleeps in the last 10 days. The devout converge at mosques for 'namaz-e-taraveeh' around 8.30 pm and the night vigil ends with special prayers 'tahajjud' around 3.30 am.

Shops in the centuries-old markets in the old city and the gleaming malls in the central and new Hyderabad are packed with men, women and children. As people feel tired due to fasting during the day and hardly find any time to spare in the evenings, the shopping is mostly done after 8 p.m. -- and it continues till 'sehr' or the pre-dawn meals.

Dates and all varieties of fruits flood the market during the entire month as Muslims prefer it for 'iftar' or breaking the fast. Thousands of vendors set up businesses on the footpaths in areas surrounding Charminar in the old city.

With Muslims accounting for about 30 percent of the city's estimated nine million population, every commodity associated with the festivities opens up huge business opportunities during the month. The volume of business, which is mostly in the unorganised sector, is beyond anybody's guess.

According to some estimates, the business covering eatables, garments and footwear alone exceeds Rs.2,000 crore. Such is the economic spin-off of Ramadan that thousands of people get additional income by setting up makeshift shops on footpaths to sell various items. The authorities also show leniency.


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