PATNA, India – Taking a shelter in a school building, the family of Feroz Ahmad welcomed the holy fasting month of Ramadan with a sense of grief while struggling to get relief in flood-hit districts in the northeastern Indian state of Bihar.
"It is difficult to observe fast when there is no arrangement for iftar at sunset to break the day-long fast and vail sehri (the meal taken before the break of dawn)," Ahmad of Bahadurganj in Kishanganj told Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) on Monday, July 15.
His family was ravaged by floods that hit the districts of Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria and Katihar in Bihar state.
Affecting over half a dozen districts in Bihar, the floods forced more than 8000 people to flee their homes.
At least 13 people have been killed in the floods.
For Ahmad, the floods forced him, his wife and four children to take shelter in a school building with dozens of their neighbors.
With a rare relief effort, the evacuees have to wait for two days to get relief.
Ahmad said they were managing Ramadan fast with chura-gur (beaten rice and jaggery) -- and unsafe drinking water.
"Instead of traditional food cooked at home, we are eating chura-gu,” he said in despair.
“It is affecting our health.”
Another flood victim, Manzar Alam, said it was a challenge to observe Ramadan fasting in such a situation.
"We have nothing to eat," said Alam, who took shelter at a high-rise embankment near a police station in Purnea district.
Sharing their feelings of distress, Ishrarul Haque, the Congress MP from Kishangaj, admitted it was a difficult time for flood victims during Ramadan.
He urged the government to ensure timely relief for flood victims, especially those observing the Ramadan fast.
There are some 140 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started last Wednesday, July 10.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
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