It is festival time and there is a lot that everyone can enjoy. Several parts of India are now soaking in the spirit of Ramzan – the month-long period where day-long fasting helps inculcate the spirit of self-restraint and spirituality to followers.

Walk around several cities across India – Walled City in Delhi, Park Circus in Kolkata, Bhendi Bazar in Mumbai, Frazer Town in Bengaluru, Charminar area in Hyderabad, among a host of other cities. The glitter cannot be missed. The bustling activity that these and other such areas, see during the day time is continued into festivities during the night.

Fasting through the day is traditionally the norm. After sunset, when the time for fasting is over, many choose to have the first swig of water or sharbat (sweet drink prepared from fruits or flower petals). After the traditional prayers, it is time for dinner, when food is often sumptuous and rich.

For Faizan Ahmed, who spent his early childhood in Kolkata, the advent of Ramzan brings back memories of the amazing Haleem (stew) from the Park Circus area of the metropolis. For the family, Eid was the reason Coca-Cola would certainly find a place in their homes.

On one occasion, Faizan noticed that one of the popular restaurants had an offer with Haleem – they were offering a 600 ml Coca-Cola PET bottle free with it. The Haleem from the restaurant was so popular that Faizan had to wait for it for over an hour! By the time, it was his turn, the supplies had run dry. Faizan insisted that Coca-Cola was part of the deal and he had to get it. Not wanting a customer’s demand to be unmet, the restaurant managed to get the beverage and ensured that its consumer had happy memories to share!

“You will surely get Coca-Cola or Thums Up with food at everyone’s home during the festival. It goes very well with the kind of food that is served,” says Faizan, fondly remembering his childhood days. Clearly, food plays a very important role during Ramzan.

The timing of the fast varies at different places in India. During entire May, the sunrise in Aizawl, Mizoram’s capital, is expected to be around 4:30 am while the sunset is expected around 6 pm. For the similar period, in comparison, Gujarat’s capital Ahmedabad is expected to have sunrise around 6 am and sunset around 7:15 pm. That difference in time is closely monitored because Iftar, or dinner after breaking the fast, happens after sunset.

The ritual of prayers have to be completed too and according to tradition, the holy book must be read through completely during the first 26 days of the fast. But fasting for longer hours can drain anyone. So, after breaking the traditional fast with water, some people like to have dates or deep-fried pakoras (a popular snack in the Indian subcontinent). For the mango- loving families, Maaza can help them indulge in the sweetness of real mango pulp. A lavish dinner follows.

Usman Ghani, whose family migrated from Gujarat to settle in Delhi several years ago, vividly remembers asking his elders for Eidi – giving of money or gifts to children, along with their blessings.

“During Ramzan, children are treated very special because they have to be encouraged to fast for the day and learn the importance of spirituality,” Usman says.

The blessings of elders, with or without the Eidi, can be had by anyone of any faith. Says Delhi resident Shivari Gupta, “We have always gone to my father’s friend’s place to be part of Eid celebrations. Just like his own children, I would get Eidi too. During Diwali their family would celebrate the festival with us.”

Coca-Cola and Thums Up also find a place for the Eid Milan parties that follow after the holy month is over. This is a traditional meeting of family and friends immediately after the culmination of Ramzan and Eid.