Scenes from a Ramadan Iftar meal in metro Atlanta

A young boy recites duas —short prayers of invocation asking for assistance from God—after praying taraweeh at Mughals in Norcross. Taraweeh, prayed in sets, is a form of meditation while reciting longer portions of the Quran. During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to ask for their grandest wishes.

Photograph by Sharif Hassan

Brightly colored saris, hijabs, kufis, and finely embroidered outfits drape the adults and young children as they line the dining room of the Mughals in Norcross, minutes before sunset, signifying time for breakfast during the holy month of Ramadan. Men and women line up for Maghrib prayer, the fourth prayer of the day for Muslims that coincides with daily sunset, just before breaking fast. These group prayers are still a rare sight in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Guests at Mughals in Norcross serve themselves at the buffet, which features Pakistani and Bengali dishes.

Photograph by Sharif Hassan

A plate from Mughals, featuring mutton biryani (bottom left), Aloo Sabzi (bottom right), Mutton Kadai, (top right), Tandoori chicken (center), and Naan with raw onions, jalapenos, and cilantro.

Photograph by Sharif Hassan

Celebrated by millions of Muslims worldwide, Ramadan comes around once (sometimes twice) a year, corresponding to the ninth month in the lunar calendar. The 29-30 days of fasting from dawn to sunset are spent with friends and family, engulfed in community activities and group Iftar meals (a word literally meaning “breakfast”). And this is the second year Ramadan is being spent largely in quarantine.

Mughals is one of the only metro Atlanta restaurants offering Iftar buffets to the masses. Their banquet hall draped in decor, tables spaced out accordingly, and masks are worn while people greet each other and stand in line to fill their plates with Pakistani and Bengali dishes.

Children now fill the makeshift prayer area, playing tag and creating new friendships that have the potential to last a lifetime. As Muslims, these are the special connections that make Ramadan significant outside of the traditional practices. Without family and community the holiday is quiet, giving us time to reflect on our lives and the significance of the holy month—yet we’re left yearning for that connection and the ability to be physically helpful to those less fortunate. Imagine a 30-day Christmas without family and friends.

If you want to show support for Muslim families and friends during Ramadan, which this year began in early April and ends May 12, consider making a donation in their name—or feed them. Supporting them with food to break fast with, or to enjoy as they wake up before dawn to fuel up for the long day ahead, is a gracious way to make the holiday more wholesome.

Iftar meals are also celebrated with friends at home—here, mamoul cookies are set out during an iftar meal at the home of the author’s family friend.

Photograph by Sharif Hassan

Decadent Turkish delight, topped with rose petals and saffron

Photograph by Sharif Hassan

Dates are traditionally served and used to break the fast, along with a cup of water.

Photograph by Sharif Hassan

The post Scenes from a Ramadan Iftar meal in metro Atlanta appeared first on Atlanta Magazine.

At the Mughals in Norcross, families gather—cautiously—to celebrate during the holy month that once again falls during the Covid-19 pandemic.
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