It’s the frenzy time of the year again. With hoards of cows, scores of goats, and a few camels here and there, it’s Eid-ul-Azha, celebrated to commemorate the sacrifice by Hazrat Ibrahim (A.S.).
In Pak land, this event begins with animal madness (not the mad cow variety, rather humans going crazy for animals) starting with the sighting of the moon for Zil-Hajj and ends on a huge meat festival that goes on and on for days (till the meat lasts).
Begin Zil-Hajj and people can be seen asking frantic questions about the cattle rates, what to buy and when to buy from the mandi (the cattle mart) and who to go with to get the best bargains. As the eid day comes near, a number of overloaded suzuki carries can be seen returning from the mandis. Animal buying is taken as an obligation and is performed with a great sense of duty (not to mention the tafreeh part), the young men of the family or the mohalla participating in every deal with great fervor.
These animals are proudly displayed outside houses in most areas. I feel like staying in the confines of my house, with all this wildlife (ok, not actually wild, but you get the idea) here and there. The bigger the animal, the better; the bigger the animal and gotten at a low rate, the best. By the time eid arrives, the city reeks of cows, goats and the occasional camels. The amazing part is, no one is annoyed (except, you guess right, me).
As if the these animals weren’t enough, cattle marts spring up in every nook and corner of the city (which in this case is Karachi), making driving and reaching destinations on time next to impossible.
These 10 days are sheer craze. Conversations start with cows and end on goats. If you haven’t yet bought one of the two, it’s about the place to get one. If you have bought one, it’s about how you got ripped off or how you were lucky and striking a good bargain. When everyone has gotten their choice of cattle, it’s about getting an appointment with the most important person for Eid day, the ever famous qasai. Whoever manages to book a professional qasai (buther) is the most lucky one as there are fake qasais (yes, we manage to have fakes of everything, even the qasai) roaming around trying their luck on innocent people and even more innocent animals.
Somehow the sacrifice is done, the affair is far from finished. Now it’s the time for distributing the meat. Relatives, house help, seasonal beggars, all are on the list. After the distribution of meat, the eid day seems to reach an end.
But not so fast, try getting out of the home and the city is far from clean. There is no concept of slaughter houses, so the city has become one big slaughter house. By this time the city smells like meat, and again, no one is bothered. Can someone please introduce slaughter houses here as well?
It’s showtime now. It’s now an obligation to not only cook this meat, but also force it down the throats of your guests. Also make sure to feel offended if a guest even tries to protest at the meat (and food) overload.
The saga ends only when all relatives (because generally Pakistani society is all about relatives) have met at least thrice over the span of three days of Eid (they’d like to meet more, but thankfully work calls after three days). Then it’s back to routine life, void of the cows and goats, their smells and the general craze about animals. It’s back to normal life, back to the proper work schedule.