India’s Hindus on fasting during Ramadan

Dr. Sachchidanand Vikrant with his family for iftar. The lockdown kept him from breaking his fast with his Muslim friends. (Supplied)
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Updated 06 May 2020

India’s Hindus on fasting during Ramadan

  • Gesture by a Hindu doctor expresses solidarity amid rising Islamophobia

NEW DELH: He wakes up before sunrise for sahoor and abstains from food and drink the entire day, breaking his fast at sunset. Nothing unusual there for a Muslim observing the holy month of Ramadan, except Dr. Sachchidanand Vikrant is a Hindu.

“I first started fasting in 2014, when my Muslim colleague and I were conducting a joint raid on illegal drug sellers,” the drug inspector who lives in the eastern state of Bihar told Arab News. “After the operation, he asked (me) to join him in his fasts ... That light-hearted talk prompted me to fast that day, and I’ve been observing it ever since.”
Vikrant initially fasted for 11 days during Ramadan, and the remaining 19 days after Eid. It has become a part of his lifestyle six years on.
“For me, this is more than a religion. It is a belief in our culture and the unity of our religions. Muslims are not others, they are a part of us, and we all have to live and coexist together in the same cultural milieu.”
Vikrant is not alone as other Hindus also fast during Ramadan, such as fashion designer Ved Amrita from the hilly state of Uttarakhand.
“It is important to express solidarity with Muslims,” Amrita told Arab News. “For the past three years I have been observing the fast for two days in the month of Ramadan to demonstrate,” adding that the small act was an “assertion of my faith in India’s syncretic and secular tradition.”

HIGHLIGHT

Vikrant is not alone as other Hindus also fast during Ramadan, such as fashion designer Ved Amrita from the hilly state of Uttarakhand.

There has been a surge in Islamophobia since the Indian government blamed a missionary group, Tablighi Jamaat, for being responsible for a spike in coronavirus cases and there have also been cases of Muslims being denied access to health care.
New Delhi-based activist Meha Dhondiyal said there was more of a need to connect during such a climate. “For me, fasting for a few days in the month of Ramadan means connecting with Muslims and showing solidarity with them,” she told Arab News. “At a time when a deliberate attempt is being made to create Islamophobia and push the community into the corner, it becomes all the more important to connect with them. India’s strength is its religious diversity and secularism, and the festival offers an opportunity to reach out to each other.”
New Delhi-based photographer Jayshree Shukla said that the nationwide lockdown had curtailed human interaction during this Ramadan. “Otherwise I regularly participate in iftar,” he told Arab News. “I feel a great cultural bonding at such events.” Muslims said they appreciated the gesture.
“Cultural interaction between Hindus and Muslims has been a part of the history of India,” Allahabad-based social activist Irshad Ullah told Arab News. “For us, Hindus participating and organizing iftar for us is a normal thing. At a time when majoritarianism is dominating the political narrative, it restores our faith in the nation. We feel reassured.”


US passes 9 million coronavirus cases as infections spike

Updated 31 October 2020

US passes 9 million coronavirus cases as infections spike

  • On Friday the US set a record for new daily infections of more than 94,000 in 24 hours
  • More than 229,000 people have died of the virus in the US since the pandemic began

WASHINGTON: The United States passed nine million reported coronavirus cases on Friday and broke its own record for daily new infections for the second day in a row, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, as Covid-19 surges days before the country chooses its next president.
The US, which has seen a resurgence of its outbreak since mid-October, has now notched up 9,034,295 cases, according to a real-time count by the Baltimore-based school.
On Friday the country set a record for new daily infections of more than 94,000 in 24 hours, breaking the record of 91,000 it had set just one day earlier.
With the virus spreading most rampantly in the Midwest and the South, hospitals are also filling up again, stretching the health care system just as the nation heads in to flu season.
"We are not ready for this wave," Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University school of public health, warned on ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday.

COVID-19 tally by the John Hopkins University of Medicine as of October 30, 2020.

Authorities in El Paso, Texas, imposed a curfew this week to protect "overwhelmed" health care workers and began setting up field hospitals.
But a judge's attempt to shut down non-essential businesses in the city has been challenged by the mayor and the state's attorney general, the Washington Post reported.
Midwestern state Wisconsin has also set up a field hospital in recent weeks, and hospital workers in Missouri were sounding warning bells as cases rise.
Hospitals in the western state of Utah were preparing to ration care by as early as next week as patients flood their ICUs, according to local media.
The pattern of the pandemic so far shows that hospitalizations usually begin to rise several weeks after infections, and deaths a few weeks after that.
More than 229,000 people have died of the virus in the US since the pandemic began, the Hopkins tally showed as of Friday, with the daily number of deaths creeping steadily upwards in recent weeks also -- though at present it remains below peak levels.
For months public health officials have been warning of a surge in cases as cooler fall weather settles over the US, driving more people indoors.
As the weather changes, New York and other parts of the northeast, which were the epicenter of the US outbreak in the spring but largely controlled the virus over the summer, were reporting a worrying rise.
Some epidemiologists believe that Covid-19 spreads more easily in drier, cool air.
Rural areas, which in the spring appeared to be getting off lightly compared to crowded cities, were also facing spikes with states like North Dakota charting one of the steepest rises in recent weeks.
The state is so overwhelmed that earlier this month it told residents they have to do their own contact tracing, local media reported.
With four days to go until the election, Donald Trump was battling to hold on to the White House against challenger Joe Biden, who has slammed the president's virus response.
"It is as severe an indictment of a president's record as one can possibly imagine, and it is utterly disqualifying," Biden said Friday as the toll passed nine million.
Trump downplays the virus even as the toll has been accelerating once more, holding a slew of rallies with little social distancing or mask use.
He has repeatedly told supporters that the country is "rounding the curve" on Covid infections.
But Americans, wary of crowded polling booths on Election Day as the virus spreads, are voting early in record numbers.