Mysuur: More than 20,000 kgs of dates are sold in Mysuru during the holy month of Ramzan or Ramadan every year. And even if one keeps a conservative price of Rs. 500 per kg, the business runs into crores of rupees. While the normal varieties of dates cost Rs. 100 per kg, exotic varieties cost a whopping Rs. 5,000 per kg.
During Ramzan, each day, Muslim families rise early in the morning and have a pre-fast meal known as Sehri. At sunset, families gather to break the fast with a meal known as Iftar. But before heading for Iftar they break their fast with dates, after which they adjourn for Maghreb prayer – the fourth of the five daily prayers.
It is said that Prophet Muhammad broke fast with three dates and water. And from there on dates has been associated with Ramzan. While an Iftar meal is packed with sumptuous and signature Ramadan delicacies, ranging from kebabs, biryani, sevaian, sharbats and desserts, it is impossible to imagine a Muslim household without the presence of dates.
At least 60 varieties of the fruit have arrived in the city. Shelves at the supermarkets and grocery stores in several areas in city have been flooded with a variety of dates, while few vendors also sell it on streets. Most of them are engaging themselves in additional temporary work of selling dates in the evening to earn a few rupees more.
Dates are available in abundance at malls and supermarkets across the city and places like Meena Bazaar, Mandi Mohalla, Udayagiri, Rajivnagar, Shanthinagar and Akbar Road. And the good news here is that many more varieties will come to the city and when the Ramzan celebration reaches the peak, the buyers can have a choice to buy from over 75 varieties.
The Loyal World Group has a host of varieties of dates at its outlets at V.V. Mohalla and Forum City Centre. “We have hosted a ‘Date Fiesta’ with over 50 varieties that have been imported from nine countries. Our varieties include Ajwa, Amber, Medjoul, Skukaray and a lot more. We have enough stocks of these delicious dates,” said Shabbir of Loyal World.
The scrumptious dates have not tempted Muslims alone. Non-Muslims find this staple fruit of West Asia equally yummy. This year, dates have been imported from Jordan, South Africa, Iran, Tunisia, Medina (Saudi Arabia), Baghdad and other places.
The varieties are so many that buyers have been spoilt for choice – from sugarless dates to the honey-filled ones. Among those much in demand is Medjoul King, a sugarless date variety from South Africa. Ajwa, the seedless date filled with honey, almond, saffron and cardamom, is also tempting the buyers.
Among the varieties available in the market are Mariyam and Kesar from Iran, Mabroom from Baghdad, Kalmi, Safawi, Khudri, Sukri from Madina (Saudi Arabia), Jordan valley dates from Jordan and Tunisian dates from Tunisia. Also, Kimia, rehana-zobeil varieties are available.
A handful of dates for breaking the fast at dusk and your body is recharged instantly. Dates are an ideal food consumed after breaking the fast as they are packed with natural sugar that gives the body a quick burst of energy. Dates are also a good source of fibre, which aids in digestion. Dates are also high in potassium, carbohydrates, magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamins K and B, including vitamin B6 and Folate.
Food nutritionists say that dates are easy to digest and consumption of which also protects the fasting person from constipation, and alkaline salts in dates adjust the acidity of the blood, thus serving as great food starters at the time of breaking the fast.
The Hadith, sayings attributed to Prophet, mentions “The Messenger of Allah would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. If those were not available, he would eat dry dates. If those were not available, he would drink some water.” The same has been adopted by Muslims, contributing to the increase in demand during Ramzan.
Traders Salman Khan, and Shabbir Pasha, on Ashoka Road, told Star of Mysore that the demand for dates had shot up. Traders in big commodity markets across India place orders with foreign merchants, and huge consignments arrive in the country within a week
During Ramzan, many date-producing countries slash export duty as the fruit is distributed to orphanages, madrasas and mosques. Another merchant in Mandi Mohalla said that most buyers were non-Muslims who preferred dates for their health benefits.