As my two cousins, Hassan and Zaid, my elder brother, Sameer, and I were returning home from the mosque after offering Maghrib prayer, on the way we discussed if the Zilhaj moon which would be sighted that day. Sameer and Hassan were excited to go to the cattle market to buy sacrificial animals.

Just when we reached home, my uncle greeted all of us with the news that the new moon had been sighted. As we hugged and wished each other, dad said, “We will be going to buy animals for sacrifice after dinner.”

We were very excited as it meant a lot to us kids, not just as a religious deed, but also because of the love and fun part of having the sacrificial animal with us for the next 10 days. After dinner, I, along with my dad, uncle, my brother and my two cousins, left for the animal market, or bakra mandi as it is called. We got stuck in the traffic for an hour because, like us, many people were heading to buy the animals, thus causing a traffic jam.

Despite the crowd, there was excitement in the air and happiness was evident on everyone’s face. Eventually, when we reached bakra mandi, like others, we also rushed in, eager to get the best sacrificial animal. However, the rates of the animals were very high. After a lot of searching and bargaining, we bought two goats, a black and a brown one, and we also bought a white cow. We didn’t waste time in looking around, so as soon as we were done buying, we immediately returned home.

In our neighbourhood, we had a dedicated enclosure where families kept their sacrificial animals during the Eid festivities. This communal space allowed for easier care and supervision of the livestock, while it also made animals comfortable to be closer to their kind.

Once our animals were settled in the enclosure, we spent all our days there and sat till late in the night until mum would call us in. Among us, my cousin Hassan became very attached with the goats. He always took care of them and even took them for rounds of our street in the evening. He always got emotional when we talked about the day of Eid when our animals would be sacrificed.

During this time, we noticed that our neighbours were not taking care of their cow and would even be unaware that their cow’s food had finish. We didn’t wait for them to provide her food, and so we always filled her pots as it was our duty to treat all sacrificial animals with care.

Now, only one day was left until Eid. We gave our animals a shower, cleaned them and took them for a walk. Everyone’s joy was now replaced by a little sadness because we knew that tomorrow they would not be here and would be slaughtered.

Finally, it was Eidul Azha. I woke up early and dressed up in new clothes. After offering the Eid prayer at the mosque, we hugged each other and exchanged warm wishes. Then we rushed home and got together at the animal enclosure of our society where there were arrangements to perform the ritual of sacrifice. I hugged my goats and patted the cow one last time.

Then, my father recited the Kalma and performed the sacrifice. My little cousin Hassan had tears in his eyes, but my grandfather told us that the real meaning of sacrifice is to give up precious things and have mercy on all creatures, as Islam teaches us.

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 8th, 2024

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