Srinagar: Enthusiastic shoppers thronged the markets here on Thursday as festive buying started across the Kashmir Valley on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan.
At the top of the shopping list are dates from different parts of the country and abroad. Fruits and vegetables markets here also opened earlier than usual on Thursday.
Muslims traditionally believe it is auspicious to break the dawn to dusk fast with dates. Fruits especially the more succulent ones like the water melons and mangoes are in demand here as long hours of fasting dehydrate the devotees.
In a sharp contrast to the past when the less privileged ones here adhered more devoutly to the observance of Ramadan, an overwhelming majority of Kashmiris observe the fast now.
The younger generation of Kashmiris who are internet savvy and have better access to social media networks are in the forefront of observing the duties ordained for the faithful Muslims.
"Young people and children did not keep regular fasts during the Ramadan month in the past. Now the trend has completely changed. The younger generation of Kashmiris are more zealous about religious duties these days.
"They sport beards, offer regular Nimaz and observe religious duties with zest now. The negative propaganda about the younger generations of Muslims is logically being fought by these young boys and girls," said Professor Muzaffar Ahmad Khan, a college principal here.
There is another welcome development. There has been a growing tendency among the Muslims in Kashmir towards donating to organized charities.
"Giving money to a beggar on the street only encourages beggary and is a bad practice. But if somebody contributes to a charitable organization that is transparent and lawful, it is a healthy thing," said a resident, Khwaja Nisar Hussain.
The administration of local mosques are busy laying new floorings for the devotees who offer special extended night prayers known as the 'Tarawi' during Ramadan.
The economically better off people in cities, towns and villages arrange for refreshments for the devotees during evening Ramadan prayers.