Ringing in the festival of sacrifice
By Susanna Myrtle Lazarus - CHENNAI
27th October 2012 08:53 AM
At six in the morning on Friday, an open ground at MR Nagar off Pulianthope High Road bears all the signs of being a cattle market — the sound and smell of sheep; men and women haggling with the traders and vehicles waiting to take away the animal.
The sheep are coded using colour powder according to the trader — some are pink, a few green, and multicoloured ones, too. They bleat loudly as their traders entice potential customers to check out the animals. “We have the best among the lot here,” claims one man, pointing to a herd of about 50 sheep covered in pink powder.
Over 20 individual traders from Cuddapah in Andhra Pradesh have brought their sheep for the Chennai market and are doing brisk business, to say the least. As interested Muslims examine the sheep to get the healthiest ones, the traders run their sales pitch. Mohamed, who is here to pick a sheep for today’s qurbani (sacrifice) says, “One would think that with so many other traders around, the prices would be low. But it is a difficult job bargaining with them.”
Rajesh, one of the traders, says, “Apart from transport, we also have to pay for our food, stay and the helpers. Under these circumstances, the price is reasonable. We barely make Rs 1,000 on each animal. This is the last day for us to sell the animals. By afternoon tomorrow, the sacrifices should be over, so we will leave tonight or early tomorrow.”
Meanwhile in a small street near Broadway, a few camels chew the cud lazily as they sit next to a mosque in Mannadi. They have been brought down from Rajasthan especially for Bakrid by several groups of people. While buying an entire camel may not be feasible for most families, they have the option of sharing it with other families.
Dastagir, who organises the procurement of animals, explains how the sacrifice works in the case of a camel. “When the qurbani is done, the names of the seven families will be recited. That is what we mean by splitting the cost. After that, the meat is also divided equally among the families,” he says. Each camel costs Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000, he says, adding that once an approximate number of people who will purchase a share is known, the camels are brought by walk from the North.
Dastagir, who is the State vice president of the Jananayaga Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (JMMK), says that it is not a commercial venture. “We are doing this to help our fellow-Muslims. Not everyone can manage this, and since we have the means to do so, we take care of the arrangements. It is not about profit,” he says.
The other option for sacrifice is cows, and these sell for about Rs 1,300 a share. Mehrunisa, a housewife, says that the tradition differs for each family. “The animal chosen for qurbani depends on each family’s preference. As long as our sacrifice is healthy and up to the standards, we do not mind anything,” she adds with a smile.
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