The Hindu, 30 June 2015
Jaideep Deo Bhanj
Not just youngsters,but elders too aretrying their hand at these mobile apps. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma
Technology has changed the way visitors experience the streets of Old Delhi during the holy month of Ramzan.
The minarets of the Jama Masjid, lit up to accentuate the red sandstone and white marble, provide the perfect backdrop for a stroll through the narrow streets that surround the mosque to absorb the festive spirit that bathes the area well into the night.
Every year, tourists throng the area to explore the delicacies sold on the roadside stalls, either in large guided groups led by those who provide context to the entire experience or by the smaller bunches who like to explore the area on their own in the hope that each visit will spring a surprise that turns out different from their previous visit. Guided by smartphones that have dedicated applications listing down must-try foods and experiences, technology has changed the way visitors experience the streets of Old Delhi during the holy month of Ramzan.
Mohd. Ismail, whose family has lived in the area for many generations, says that earlier people would ask around and throng known hotels. Now, they are guided by websites and mobile apps that take them to try new places. “There are so many shops selling kebabs and other delicacies that it is often hard to choose which one to stop at and which to avoid. Now, with everybody posting photos and writing reviews, people have moved beyond eating only at Karim’s or Al Jawahar, which are the famous brands.”
It is not just tourists who are looking to explore the area and have used technology to their benefit to better their Ramzan experience. A number of mobile applications are now helping Muslims who are fasting to keep track of their day as well as help them with their prayers.
Apps like Ramadan 2015, Ramadan Legacy and Muslim Pro are among the popular apps that curate a better Ramzan experience. They have features like accurate timings for prayers, Qibla locator, closest mosque locator, full audio Quran, halal restaurants as well as a complete directory of prayers that are supposed to be said at particular times. The apps also have features that help you plan the month, set goals and select companions to motivate and encourage them. They have features that help maintain a journal, share reflections and provide access to a vast library of knowledge and reading material.
Talking about Ramadan Legacy, which was started to help Muslims around the world with their fasting experience, founder Shahbaz Mirza says the idea came to him in 2014 when he launched an online book called the Ramadan Action Plan that received thousands of downloads. “In 2015, our challenge was to digitise a month that is over 1,400 years old and simplify Ramadan for Muslims across the world. Muslims are turning to their smartphones for guidance and connectivity. Ramadan Legacy provides an authentic and seamless way to enhance and capture your annual Ramadan experience,” says Mirza.
For Faraz Khan, who is always on the move, the app helps him keep to his schedule and observe the fast the proper way. “It is not just the youth, but even the elders in my family who are using the app. For youngsters like me, it’s a bit like Facebook as we share experiences that only members of our community will understand.”
Read more at: When technology meets Ramzan