The traditional Iftar market of old Dhaka’s Chawkbazar, one of the oldest business hubs in the capital, was not sitting this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Every year Chawkbazar turned into an Iftar market with the beginning of Holy Ramadan. But this time the picture is different. No shops were set up and vendors are not busy.Before the start of Ramadan, various activities of the Iftar vendors in Chawkbazar were seen. The shops were set up by closing the road the day before the start of Ramadan and continue till the end of Ramadan. This month-long Iftar market is full of delicious food.
Hundreds of people from various part of the capital used to throng in Chawkbazar on this first day of Ramadan to collect their favourites Iftar items from the most famous Iftar market in the city.
The Iftar sellers usually displayed variety of items in their makeshift shops in front of Chawkbazar Shahi Mosque. Form fast food to traditional Iftar items everything was available there.
The roads in front of Chawkbazar Shahi Mosque go off-limits for all types of vehicles from 12:00pm on every Ramadan as Iftar shops and buyers occupy the area. The area became overcrowded as the time closer to Iftar.
About one hundred of Iftar vendors were selling more than a hundred of Iftar items prepared of meat, vegetables, sweet, milk and other materials.
The most popular item of Chawkbazar is “boro baper polay khai” (elder father’s son eats.), a mixture of chickpeas, brains, minced meat, potatoes, chira (parched rice), egg, chicken, 13 spices and ghee. The popular item was available in most of the Iftar shops.The other famous items of Chawkbazar are chicken roasts, many types of kebab (shuti, chicken, sheek, boti, shami, jali), roast legs of lamb and roasts of pigeon and koyel.
Many vendors used to sale shahi doi bora, mutton and chicken cutlet, kima roll, kima parata, borhani, matha, bundia, and different kinds of sweetmeats. Some traders displayed Shahi Jilapi, one of the most popular sweet foods of Chawkbazar Iftar market.
But this time the situation is different. To prevent coronavirus infection, the government has instructed to close all shops except daily necessities and pharmacy.
Inspector General of Police Benazir Ahmed on Wednesday said they would not allow anyone to cook and sell iftar items on the streets and footpaths during the upcoming month of Ramadan, in order to avoid public gathering and spread of coronavirus.
Police will also be alerted so that there is no mass gathering in the name of iftar distribution anywhere, the IGP said during a video conference with top police officials of different units across the country.
Moudud Hawlader, officer-in-charge of Chawk Bazar Police Station said they would strictly follow the directive and the traditional iftar market in Chawk Bazar will remain closed this year, considering the present situation.
Only brick and mortar restaurants will be allowed to sell iftar items on a limited scale since some essential offices are still open and many city dwellers have no cooking facilities, police officials said.
To ensure social distancing amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the government had declared general holiday on March 26 for 10 days.
Later, that was gradually extended till April 25 as the country kept seeing a rise in the number of cases and deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Then, the government has decided to extend the ongoing general holiday -- and the virtual lockdown -- across Bangladesh till May 5, and issue with additional directives, to curb the spread of novel coronavirus.