Last month, Alexandria broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest iftar spread— the table extended over 4.3 kilometres, and hosted 7,000 people who broke their fast together during the month of Ramzan. This month, Ahmer Khan is attempting to put India on the world-record map by organising Asia’s largest iftar offering that will take place on 11 July, in Kashmir, on the banks of the scenic Dal lake, between 7:00 – 9:00 pm while beautiful strains of Islamic songs play in the background.
In an interview with HuffPost India, Khan revealed that this was the first time a ceremony of this size was taking place in Kashmir, or India for that matter. ‘We never had this festival in Kashmir before, in fact we don’t really have this in India,” said the 22-year-old who heads an event management company, Loud Beetle, that has helped put together this event. “We were inspired by Egypt’s massive event, and we’d like to break the record that Qatar set (an iftar table that extended across 1.3 kilometres).”
Khan admitted that putting this event together has been quite a struggle, especially when it came to convincing people that this was a non-profit venture. Initially, Khan wanted to use this opportunity to feed 1,000 orphans in Kashmir, being one himself. However, he admitted that the idea caused problems as people were convinced that this was an attempt to exploit the children in some way. He reluctantly changed the focus of his mission to simply getting as many people as possible to come together and break the fast.
They have been pretty successful. Khan said that the team has collectively managed to organise food and seating for approximately 3,300 people in three weeks. “We’re serving some fruits, dates, juice and chicken tehri,” he said. “Initially we wanted to serve biryani, but given the season, decided against it – it would cool down too fast.”
Khan arranged for three cooks and their teams to prepare the fare, and said it would take them at least two days to ensure everything was complete. In addition to this, the team has stitched together tablecloths to create one large dastarkhan that stretches over 1.6 kilometres and will line the banks of the lake with 150 Kashmiri carpets. This was a collective effort of approximately 130 people — only 4- 5 people from Khan’s team and the rest of them were volunteers. “Everyday we have received 20 -30 volunteers who want to register on our Facebook page,” said a pleased Khan. “What makes me happy is that several of these are women – from 40-year-olds to younger women.”
The Limca Book of Records has also asked for a recording of the event to feature it in their records, and several sponsors have stepped up to help Khan and his team. However, he has taken no help from the government apart from the permission to host the event, and to ensure general law and order. “It’s the talk of the town right now,” said Khan who also revealed that only young, private companies have sponsored the event. They were turned out by J&K bank –- initially a surprise to Khan, he claimed that in retrospect he was relieved. “It is an interest-based bank, and in Islam we don’t allow interest, so it is good,” he said.
Khan and his team have also invited Mufti Mohammaed Sayeed, the Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, to participate in the event, but are unsure of his presence.