As I hurry home battling the rush hour traffic in the evening, I see a queue in front of the gates of the local mosque. Men in white skull caps, women clad in saris and burkas, young children with school bags on their backs — all are waiting with containers in their hands for a share of the nombu kanji. Mosques in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala distribute the kanji, a lightly spiced rice and lentil porridge, before the sunset prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan, which starts Friday evening.
During her pre-Ramadan shopping, Shahida Khalique from Tiruppur, a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, buys extra rice, lentils, spices and other items for making nombu kanji. She distributes the additional provisions among four women who work for her.
“I give them enough ingredients to make the nombu kanji for 15 days,” she says. “On the days I add meat to my kanji, I give them a portion so that they, too, can cook their kanji with meat that day.” Her sister-in-law, who employs the same set of women, provides the supplies for the next 15 days.
Photo: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images Caption: Young Indian children sit with bowls of porridge (nombu kanji) as they prepare to break the fast with the Iftar meal during the Islamic month of Ramadan at The Wallajah Big Mosque in Chennai last July.
CHEERY RED - photography by Tarun Chhabra, National Geographic Your Shot - text: Janna Dotschkal
‘Tarun Chhabra’s 15-year effort to capture Indian culture in a “self-initiated” photo project has yielded this “good and rare picture” of Holi celebrants in India. Holi is the Hindu festival of love in which participants splash each other with bright colors that represent “energy, life, and joy.” Chhabra writes of the experience, “I was kneeling down in the middle of a group of people who were singing bhajans (devotional songs). People were throwing lots of water and colors, and I was fully drenched … My eyes were filled with water-and-color paste, and this was very irritating and painful. With great difficulty I tried to slightly open my eye … and found the beautiful moment unfolding just in front of me. People … were singing devotional songs, and red color was flying like clouds. This amazing moment [gave] me inner strength, and I dared to open my eye slightly more to compose the picture.”