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New York City to provide 500,000 free halal meals during Ramzan

US censuses are prohibited from asking questions about religion, but an organisation, Muslims for American Progress, estimated that there were 768,767 Muslims in the city making up nearly 9 per cent of the city’s population of 8.6 million.

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New York Ramadan Iftar

New York, April 24 : New York City will provide 500,000 free halal meals for Ramzan, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Announcing the programme, de Blasio said on Thursday: “One of Ramzan’s most noble calling is to feed the hungry, it is a crucial part of how the holiday is celebrated, to remember to be there for those in need.”

Since mosques that provide meals for the poor to break their Ramzan fast are not able to function because of the COVID-19 restrictions, the city will ensure they will get halal meals, he said.

The halal meals will be a part of a wider free meals programme run by the city to help all those impoverished by the massive loss of jobs due to the COVID-19 crisis.

De Blasio said that although the halal meals will be available through the 435 distribution sites, 32 of them in areas with large Muslim communities will be the focus of the programme.

He said that 400,000 halal meals will be distributed directly by the city at its distribution centres known as “grab-and-go” sites because the people receiving the meal packages have to leave immediately and cannot eat there.

Another 100,000 meals will be distributed through community organisations, he said.

Those who cannot leave their homes can request home delivery.

The city has already been distributing kosher meals that conform to Jewish dietary regulations.

De Blasio said that he estimates that about 2 million people in the city’s population of 8.6 million are “food insecure” and could go hungry.

“That’s a horrifying number,” he said.

The city expects to distribute 10 million free meals in April and 15 million in May, the Mayor said.

Besides running the “grab-and-go” centres, the city is also delivering meals to the homebound by employing thousands of taxi and online hail service drivers who have become unemployed because of the coronavirus shutdown.

The federal government is giving $1,200 to all adults and $500 to children, but illegal immigrants, who are a sizable number in the city, are not eligible for them.

Many of them work in the unorganised sector and do not qualify for unemployment insurance, either.

The poorer citizens and legal immigrants who do not have to pay income taxes will have their payments delayed because they have to go through a process to apply for them.

Many New Yorkers will find it difficult to make ends meet even with federal aid and unemployment insurance because of the city’s high cost of living.

The state has banned evictions of tenants for 90 days to ensure that those unable to pay rent will not be out a home.

De Blasio estimated that 500,000 New Yorkers have lost their jobs.

“Think about folks who just weeks ago couldn’t have imagined not having enough food to eat and now they’re struggling to find it,” he said.

US censuses are prohibited from asking questions about religion, but an organisation, Muslims for American Progress, estimated that there were 768,767 Muslims in the city making up nearly 9 per cent of the city’s population of 8.6 million.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

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Only 7% plan on going out to movie theatres in the next 60 days

Results of July, August and October survey by LocalCircles indicate that people continue to stay reluctant in going to theatres and multiplexes due to the Covid-19 scare.

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Even though movie theatres are now open, only 7 per cent people are willing to go to watch a film there in the next 60 days, as per a survey.

Results of July, August and October survey by LocalCircles indicate that people continue to stay reluctant in going to theatres and multiplexes due to the Covid-19 scare.

Cinema halls across the states were allowed to reopen after seven months of the ongoing pandemic induced by the novel coronavirus.

Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are some of the states where theatres and multiplexes have started to function. Cinema halls remain closed in states like Maharashtra, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and many northeastern states.

LocalCircles conducted a survey to know if citizens if plan on visiting movie theatres in the next 2 months. The survey received 8,274 responses from across the country.

In the survey, citizens were asked, “now that the multiplexes and theatres are open in many states and the remaining states will also open them soon, will they be going to watch a movie in the next 60 days?”

However, only 4 per cent said they would go to watch if any new releases come and 3 per cent said they will go regardless of new or old movie. 74 per cent said they will not go while 2 per cent were unsure and 17 per cent said they don’t watch movies in theatre.

LocalCircles had conducted similar surveys during past few months to know how people plan to go out to watch movies when the theatres and multiplexes reopen. In the July survey, 72 per cent consumers had said that they will not go to theatres or multiplexes when they open, keeping the Covid-19 scenario in mind.

This number increased to 77 per cent in August and stands at 74 per cent in October.

Cinema halls claim to have taken various measures to ensure safety, such as sanitisation of their premises and other Covid-19 safety protocols. Among others, some of them have started the movie shows with 50 per cent of the total occupancy, staggered show timings, social distancing, thermal screening, adequate protection gear for the staff, etc.

But all said and done, it looks like people continue to be reluctant in going to a theatre or multiplex in the next 60 days, the survey said.

States that are considering opening multiplexes and cinema halls in the coming weeks may want to consider this consumer feedback and accordingly make their decision.

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Navaratri, other systems of dieting; but Persian maxim trumps them

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Navratri snacking

Corona has taken a toll of my discourses on elementary Hindu rituals, like Navratra, because my yoga guru from the Monghyr Ashram has placed himself under severe restrictions. Last year, between asanas, he was able to slip in the odd recipe centered around tapioca, water chestnut, without grain, meat and the amber stuff.

My man Friday, a Hindu of insufficient Hindutva, a gourmet cook of non-vegetarian delectations, is almost thrilled to forego his dietary excesses during Navaratri. What comes into play is his innate ‘aastha’ or faith: scratch any skin, and it is there.

Two categories of Indians, of any faith, tend to have a link with religion which over the years has become tenuous: those exposed to western education continuously for two generations or those who grew up in a ‘progressive’ household. The ‘progressives’ in my environment represented a confluence of two streams. Their anti-feudal, anti-imperial stance had certain Marxist antecedents. Otherwise, they derived from the Urdu poets of the 18th and 19th centuries with their innate abhorrence of religious orthodoxy, a caricature of the Mullah, an elegant irreverence towards traditionalism, committed to social justice — a modern outlook, way ahead of self-proclaimed liberals reared on John Stuart Mill.

In modern times, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Krishen Chander, Rajender Singh Bedi, Ali Sardar Jafri, Ismet Chugtai, Kaifi Azmi, Munish Narain Saxena, and Niaz Haidar have followed the tradition.

Multiple social malaise continued to haunt Muslims in the grip of the clergy to whom they had been subcontracted by the politician. Those being targeted as ‘urban naxals’ are precisely the sources of enlightenment for a community which would otherwise have sunk further into social backwardness.

By way of diversion, social backwardness has triggered an unrelated episode from my travels to the Connemara coast of Ireland where the great cricketer, Ranjit Singhji (Ranji) had bought Ballynahinch castle on a river known for the finest river salmon, a paradise for anglers. W.G. Grace and C.B. Fry stayed with him, but for his sister, he had made expensive arrangements in the nearby convent with some very strict conditions: she would not be converted to Christianity and she would only wear saris.

From childhood, participation in Diwali, Holi and Dussehra for Muslims and Eid, Bakr Eid and Moharram for Hindus was more or less compulsory among families and their circle of friends. Raksha Bandhan too was a beautiful occasion for cross religious participation. What has surprised me is my lack of acquaintance with, say, Navaratri, on which my yoga guru, absent because of Corona, has been my informal instructor. What I suspect has happened is that during my formative years’ observances like Navaratri, Ekadashi, pujas for change of seasons, elements, waxing and waning of the moon were either in a low key or confined to the mofussil who were marginal to Lucknow’s mainstream.

Ramzan, the month of fasting, was noticed by non-Muslims in a sensitive way: invitations for lunches or dinners were suspended. Only the closest of the errant friends made clandestine arrangements to imbibe prohibited beverages. There were eccentrics among the aristocracy in the vicinity of Lucknow who broke their fast with a shot of Scotch. One instance I am aware of where a family protested at the eccentricity of their elder relative. They were roundly rebuffed for standing between the old gentleman and his God.

Ghalib was the biggest advertiser of his mischievous indiscretions during Ramzan. He mentions in his letters how he snatched a bite of ‘roti’ (bread) here and gulped water there. Excuses he makes for not fasting were almost childish:

“Jis pas roza khol ke khane ko kuchh na ho

Roza agar na khaaye to lachaar kya karey?”

(If someone doesn’t have the means for an elaborate ‘Iftar’, or breaking of the fast:

He has only one choice: “swallow” the roza). Swallow here means “end the fast”.

His poor finances and rising costs after 1857 were forbidding. They caused him to write bitterly. “Life in Delhi is becoming impossible; Scotch is selling at Rs 16 per dozen bottles.”

There is a subsidiary group of Hazrat Ali’s admirers, among whom Ghalib counted himself, who fast only for three days of Ramzan, beginning 19th when Ali was struck by a poisoned sword in the mosque at Kufa and Ramzan the 21st when he died.

My grandfather’s fasting companion during these three days was Pundit Brij Mohan Nath Kachar, a regular at our village during Moharram. His sermons attracted full houses.

The speed with which Hindutva has in recent years transformed faith and practice of religion into religious assertion has left me a trifle shaken. Should my 50 years of commitment — films, books, columns on cultural commerce — be put away as a chronicle of wasted time? Or should I dismiss these as cow belt excesses exactly as the authors of the Constitution did.

After 1947, the UP Assembly grappled with a list of 20 alternative names for United Provinces. The matter could not be postponed indefinitely because the drafting of the new Constitution was nearing completion and the state’s new name had to be inserted. The Provincial Congress Committee met in Varanasi in November 1947. A majority of 106 members voted for ‘Aryavarta’ as the state’s new name, 22 members voted for ‘Hind’. Both names were shot down by Nehru.

I had started this column on Navaratri, as nine days of austere dieting. Faith was not an issue at all. Under the guru’s advice, I had been persuaded that it was a healthier way of giving the body a rest than total starvation for 10 to 14 hours which Ghalib found difficult to cope with.

In fact, the best I heard on this theme was from my uncle Syed Mohammad Mehdi. He used to recite a Persian maxim:

“Ba har hafta faaqa

Ba har maah qae

Ba har saal mushil

Ba har roz mai”

(Fast every week;

Drink litres of saline water and

Vomit it out every month;

Purgative every year;

Wine every evening)

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior commentator on political and diplomatic issues. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached on [email protected])

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Disha Patani finds putting eyeline ‘not easy’

For caption, she simply left a blue butterfly emoji. In many cultures, the blue butterfly is a symbol of acceptance, honour, and energy.

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Mumbai, Oct 25 : Bollywood actress and a fitness enthusiast Disha Patani says putting eyeliner not easy.

Disha posted a monochrome picture on her Instagram stories. She posted a close-up picture of her face where she is flaunting her perfectly done winged eyeliner.

On the image, she wrote: “Dude liner is not easy.”

She then shared a picture dressed in a stunning red floral printed dress. She is seen playing with her two pet dogs Goku and Bella.

Recently, Disha posted a stunning picture flaunting her well-sculpted washboard abs.

For caption, she simply left a blue butterfly emoji. In many cultures, the blue butterfly is a symbol of acceptance, honour, and energy.

Disha is currently busy shooting for the upcoming film “Radhe”, which features superstar Salman Khan in the starring role, along with Randeep Hooda. The film is directed by Prabhudeva. Salman recently shared his happiness on resuming shoot for the film after almost seven months.

The actress also has the starring role in “KTina”, produced by Ekta Kapoor. The film also features Akshay Oberoi and Sunny Singh.

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