AHMADABAD – An elderly 85-year-old Indian Hindu woman has been fasting during the holy month of Ramadan for the past 34 years, sharing a “faith called love” with her Muslim friends and neighbors.
“For the past two years I have not been keeping well,” Pooriben Leuwa told India Times on Sunday, June 11.
“My family and my doctor have allowed me just three rozas this year – 27th, 28th and 29th. But I argue with them every day to allow me to observe the entire 40 days.”
Leuwa began fasting the holy month of Ramadan after making a vow to a saint in Ahmedabad’s Jamalpur area.
She said her family had been involved in a property dispute with her brother-in-law in 1982.
“I had vowed at the Bala Pir Bawa dargah that if I win the legal battle I would observe rozas [fasting],” she said.
“We won the civil case in a year and I kept my vow.”
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started on Saturday, May 27.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
Fasting with her Muslim friends during Ramadan has kept a strong bond between them, even in the middle of conflicts.
“During the 1969 riots, our Muslim neighbors formed a human shield to protect my family against riotous mobs,” she said.
“I had six girls and each of them was kept safe by our Muslim friends. My husband and I and our children were given food by our Muslim neighbors for more than a month during the curfew.”
The unity bond between faiths in Ahmadabad transcended fasting Ramadan.
Pooriben’s eldest daughter, Manjula Leuwa, said: “We remember as children that our parents never stopped us from taking part in Muharram observances.”
Manjula said her family helped their Muslim neighbors handle guests during `Eid. “We also got our `Eid presents,” she said.