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Youthquake: In goat we trust

December 06, 2009


It was that time of the year again; during which every relative's house smells oddly of freshly cut meat and it's that Eid in which you don't get any Eidi. Sacrificial animals, whether a cow, goat or a camel, have always held a fascination for the younger lot and right from naming, feeding and showing them off to friends, they indulge in all of these activities with great enthusiasm.

Eventually as you grow older, you don't feel the need to take great pains to name your goat especially if it's going to die two days later anyway. And one fine Eid, you realise that the sacrificial animal your parents bought home really does smell. There is a general feeling of disconnect till a little one from your family—whether a cousin, niece or nephew—jumps at the idea of interacting with the animal reminding you of the good old days.

For as long as I can remember, at least till before my paternal grandfather passed away, 'Bari Eid' was always celebrated at his place and we all gathered there from the from the night before. Early in the morning, whoever would wake up first would rouse the others and we'd all walk downstairs into the garage where we knew, eventually the butcher would arrive. Looking back, it feels a little strange writing about how, year after year, the butcher sacrificed the animal, 'killed' it literally, and we'd watch, without even flinching a muscle. None of us suffered any trauma when watching an animal die—despite the blood and gore, as the sacrifice had always been considered a 'happy' act.

Back in college, I once had exams right after Eidul-Azha. The place I went to for extra tutoring was in a locality of a small community where each family secretly competed with the other on the number of animals they acquired to sacrifice on Eid. A week before Eid, the otherwise normal looking street was full of animals, their food, and their (stinking) excretions, etc. So much so, that one had to practice the art of holding one's breath when getting out of the car to walking across the street to the venue.

I even went to class on Eid day and that was an experience. The moment our car turned into the street, we were welcomed by the sight of blood everywhere with a few small patches of the road that weren't yet covered by it. Body parts of animals were everywhere and this time, crossing the road didn't just require one to hold one's breath, it also required one to hop over the blood and body parts lying around as well. It sounds disgusting, which it was, but instead of standing around making faces about the situation, one simply adapted to it.

One thing I've discovered is how one's views on Eidul-Azha changes with time and age. From absolutely loving the idea of acquiring a sacrificial animal to feeling disconnected from the occasion, the Eid for me now is all about giving away money (I just handed over my due share of the monetary value of the animal they've bought to my parents) in return for everything God's given me.

Considering the astronomical prices at which sacrificial animals were sold this year, just handing over that amount was pretty hard to do. What I found amusing this year, however, is the way animal-sellers are marketing their 'products' from holding cow-walks in luxurious farm houses, where you can sit, have refreshments while cows literally walk the ramp for you to becoming downright tech-savvy while going through an online classified website, I stumbled upon advertisements for sacrificial animals complete with photographs, age, weight and 'personality' profiles with an option to pay via PayPal!