A lot has happened in the past few days and it will be hard to capture it in words. We experienced a Bharata Natyam dance at IKC (International Knowledge Center), an overwhelming amount of delicious food at Konark, more overwhelming food at a place I can’t remember the name of, consumerist India at Commercial St, block printing and Hindu temples through a bike tour of Bangalore lead by Unventured, the 21st night of Ramadan march, and two of our placement schools, DPS(Delhi Public School) Bangalore East and AECS Magnolia.
Since I was the only one to experience the 21st night of Ramadan, I’ll start with that. Last night, I was woken up at 2:00 am due to men chanting loudly outside Casa. Fortunately, I’ve been waking naturally at that time anyway (I’m writing this at 3 am). I wasn’t having much success falling back asleep so I got dressed, strapped on my camera and walked in the direction of thumping chests and a pretty catchy chant. I hopped a fence and turned the corner to find about 150 men pounding their chests with full force and singing loudly. I spoke with a man who said this was day 1 of the last 10 nights of Ramadan and so only happens once a year. They were on their way to the mosque which was not far away, but he said it would take them an hour or so to get there since they stop every 50 feet to chant, offer sacrifice, and ask for forgiveness before walking again.
“And what sacrifices are being offered?”, I asked.
The man pointed to the middle of the crowd. There were several shirtless men but I couldn’t make out what they were doing.
“They cut themselves”, he said.
I followed with my camera until we became surrounded by darkness and then turned back. On my way I saw the back of a young boy. It was lacerated and dripping with blood. In his hand was a long, sharp rock.
Tonight, there is no sound of chanting. Chapter 97 of the Quran states that the most important night of Ramadan is Lailatul Qadr (The Night of Power or Night of Decree) and depending on the interpretation it may fall on the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th night.
“Indeed, We sent the Quran down during the Night of Decree And what can make you know what is the Night of Decree? The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months.The angels and the Spirit descend therein by permission of their Lord for every matter. Peace it is until the emergence of dawn.” (Al-Qadr, 97:1-5)
This verse reveals the importance of this night. Since worshiping once on this night is better than a thousand months of worship, devout Muslims worship all 5 nights of Lailatul Qadar since it is nowhere stated explicitly which night it is, but has been narrowed down to these 5 days through numerous indications throughout the Quran. The greatest of these is the 27th night of Ramadan. I know where I’ll be Saturday night!