Dubai: It was a special Eid for Rahul Neelesh Bhatia, one of three Indian members of the UAE’s cricket team, after fasting throughout Ramadan for the first time.
A BBA student at Heriot-Watt University in Dubai, the 20-year-old left-arm spinner shared the spirit of Eid with his friends, most of whom are Muslims from Pakistan.
“My Muslim friends were very happy as they had never seen Hindus fasting,” Rahul told Gulf News.
He said he had never fasted even for a day any time before.
“The first few days were a bit difficult … I used to have matches for the club Phoenix Medicines. Every member in the team is a Muslim. They are all from Pakistan. We used to play and end fast together.”
As days passed, he said, he became mentally stronger. It was also an opportunity for him to learn more about Ramadan and Islam.
“I felt good. Dubai is the best place when it comes to religious harmony and tolerance.”
It was the most fulfilling Eid for Rahul’s family as his sister Janvi Neelesh Bhatia, 21, an upcoming model, had also fasted throughout Ramadan, for a second time in a row.
The Bhatia siblings said they felt mentally stronger and physically lighter after the month-long experience and have more respect towards Muslims and Islam.
Janvi, a dancer-cum-choreographer who has acted in a few television advertisements as an Arab girl, resorted to fasting for “spiritual reasons.”
“I had heard that fasting in Ramadan has a lot of benefits,” said the graduate in audio production and sound engineering.
“Fasting really helps to detoxify mentally … The physical result is secondary. I feel a lot calmer and more patient. I am a much happier person now.”
The vegan siblings had iftar together only on a few days since both used to be outside, chasing their passions on most evenings.
However, their parents Neelesh Bhatia and Alpa Neelesh Bhatia, also joined their children in fasting on the 27th day of Ramadan. They also hosted an iftar party for more than 100 workers.
Neelesh, who has been a Dubai resident for 30 years, said that this was the most special Ramadan and Eid the family ever had as both children fasted through Ramadan.
He said he had been fasting on 27th day of Ramadan — considered the most special day of the holy month — and providing iftar for his employees, their friends and neighbours at the latter’s accommodation on that day for 15 years.
This year, he wanted to include more people and arranged the iftar in the building complex of his apartment in Business Bay.
“I had arranged iftar kits for 200 people,” said Neelesh, who was earlier featured in Gulf News when he invited a 50-year-old Muslim tea seller as the guest of honour at the inauguration of a new branch of his electronic shop in 2016.
“We are happy that more than 100 workers could join here. We gave away the remaining iftar kits to other workers in the area.”
He said his aim is to spread love and peace and Ramadan in Dubai offered a great chance to do it.