Shauli Chakraborty
The lanes remind you of old Delhi and the food of the Mughal era. Visiting Chitpur’s Nakhoda Masjid and the Eid bazaar around it is like going back in times. Shopping for Eid here is not at all like shopping in New Market or Mullick Bazaar or Ripon Street. Firstly the feel is more ethnic and secondly people here are very hospitable.
Something about the bazaar leaves a mark. It could be the clothes, the food or just the people. If ever there was a Meena Bazaar in Kolkata it must have been like the one in Chitpur. Once the azaan is over and iftaar done, it is time to shop. You get everything here. Fabrics, linen, mats, drapes, blinds, scarfs, burqas, readymade clothes, ornis; the list goes on and on. Women come out in hundreds to buy clothes for their children and other members of the family.
“I love to do my Eid shopping from here. I get things cheap and the quality of clothes, specialy dress materials is good. The colours, prints and the feel of the market at this time of the year is delightful,” said Sakina who came to the bazaar with a friend and her daughter. The burqa-clad duo were scanning the shops and trying various pieces of jewellery. Abeda Khatoon was also there with her son and nephew. “My 10-year-old son refuses to stay home once the family has broken the fast. He along with my nephew has been after me to buy them new sherwanis and topis. I also like coming here because I get to check out what’s new this year,” she said.
If it is food you are looking for, you will find it in plenty. There are two kinds of places where you can enjoy your grub. There are shop owners who lay tables and chairs on both sides of the road and serve halim. You could come down with your friends and enjoy proper Iftaar food at remarkably cheap prices. There are people who sit with huge containers filled with halim, costing anything between Rs 10- Rs 30 depending on the size of the glass or bowl. Electric ovens connected to switch boards in nearby shops are used to make kebabs and tandoor delicacies.
The other kind of eateries serving iftaar food include ground floor establishments that down shutters once the food is sold out. For example Nawab Hotel serves beef steaks for Rs 20, beef gosht for Rs 25, dahi beef kebab for Rs 30. Mutton delicacies are also available but chicken is a rarity. Mutton kebab costs Rs 35, mutton marinated in mustard sauce costs Rs 40 and mutton liver costs Rs 40. How many other places in the city do you get meat this cheap?
Also for sale are sherbets and firni. More than a dozen people sell readymade firni and sewai cooked in milk and dry fruits. Sewai, both red and white, is sold in kilos at every second shop. The sweet dish is very much in demand as it seems to disappear with minutes from the shelves. Dry fruits also have a huge market here and there are many who come here from other parts of the city just to buy dry fruit.
Says Rakhi Menon, a Tollygunge resident, “I come here every year to buy dress materials and dry fruit. Also my friends love the iftaar food that is served here. It is one of the places we visit during our shopping trips to North Kolkata.”
However there are other markets in Kolkata where shopping for Eid is equally delightful. New Market, Mullick Bazaar, Taltola Bazaar and also Karaya Bazaar. All these places are very vibrant during Ramzan. Just when Eid is announced and the moon seen women go out and buy bangles. Rows of colourful bangles both metal and glass ones greet you at every bazaar. It is as if they are inviting you to explore the rest of the market.

The shop owners also do brisk business during the festive season. “We wait for this all throughout the year. Most of my customers celebrate Eid but we also have some who don’t but come here just for the love of the place,” said Rahat Ali, owner of Ali Merchants.
Cheerfulness and gaiety is one of the basic ingredients of the festival. This season the colours of Eid seem to have made the city a little more involved and its people a lot more humane.