Srinagar: For years, they've tickled the tastebuds of the national capital's denizens. Now, for the first time, some of New Delhi's well-known food outlets have come together to cheer the people of Kashmir by serving their delicacies during the holy month of Ramzan - and that too late into the night. It's one more sign of peace returning to this troubled land.
From iftaar to sehri - the time during which Muslims are allowed to eat during Ramzan - there is much festivity in Kashmir Haat at Srinagar's Lal Chowk city centre, where food outlets like Karim's, Khan Chacha, Tunday Kebab and Hyderabad Sultan Biryani have put up stalls serving their authentic dishes to the people of Kashmir.
Surprisingly, the event attracts many patrons even after the sun sets. This is something unusual for the Kashmir Valley as earlier all business outlets were shut down 30 minutes before iftaar.
"We are receiving a huge response. People are coming here even late at night and that is surprising," Sheikh Samiullah, head of Loudbeetle - an event management company that has organised the event in collaboration with another company, The Wings, told IANS.
Akeel Hassan, executive director of The Wings, said the festival has also been started at other places in Srinagar.
"Since we are receiving very good response, we have started this festival at other places like Hazratbal and the old city," Akeel told IANS.
The brainchild of the Jammu and Kashmir ministry of tourism and culture, the main aim of the food carnival is to celebrate the night culture.
"This festival is a celebration with religious sanctity. Throughout the globe, Ramzan is celebrated with such festivals. So we decided to bring in the charm to the state," Zameer Qadri, a consultant with the ministry, told IANS.
"People come in during late evenings and offer prayers in gatherings. This way, we are celebrating Ramzan," he added.
As for the citizens, they are thoroughly enjoying the hustle and bustle of the post-sunset event.
"We have never seen such crowds out during the night. This is amazing," Javid Parsa, the owner of a local food outlet, told IANS.
Local food outlets also joined the carnival after witnessing the positive response. Thus, Parsa also put the stall of his Kathi Junction outlet in the carnival and said there's a lot more that can be done.
"This is just the beginning. We need to rejoice and celebrate. Such events and festivals must be organised in future as well," Parsa said.
Apart from the food, the lights, reverberating religious songs and mehendi artists for women are the other attractions.
Truly, there is peace on earth - at least in this little enclave.