From snipping of body hair to giving head massage and brushing the hair, they do it all to make their sheep look attractive
By Shadan Muneer
Festivities are in the air. Monsoon has ushered in the season of festivities for people of all faiths and it is raining celebrations. The city is gearing up for Ganesha Chaturthi, Bakrid and Teej apart from the National Festival of Independence Day.
The Muslim brethren are set to celebrate Eid on Monday (Aug.12) and Bakrid is also known as Eid ul Adha or Eid ul Zuha. ‘Eid’ in Arabic means ‘festival’ and ‘Zuha’ means ‘sacrifice’ and it is among two major Islamic festivals celebrated worldwide each year the other being Eid-ul-Fitr. Muslims commemorate Bakrid to mark Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his own son as an act of obedience to God. Seeing his unfaltering devotion, God commanded to sacrifice a male goat instead of his son.
The festival is celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety around the world, the celebrations include special Eid prayers, exchanging gifts and greetings, animal sacrifice, charity followed by festive meals. Muslims believe that by sacrificing goats for Bakrid, they are reaffirming their faith in God and upholding the spirit of sacrifice.
The meat of the sacrifice is divided into three portions one section goes to the relatives and friends, the other is distributed among the poor and the last portion is retained for the immediate family. It is believed that on the day of sacrificial feast, no one should be left hungry.
In time for the festival, many sheep and goat breeders parade their stock in city. The LIC Circle, being the main centre, has turned into a sheep fair with hundreds of goats and sheep of various breeds like hybrid Mylari, Bannur (originally Bandoor variety but came to be called Bannur), Jamunapari and Kashmiri. They are usually brought from places like Bannur, Pandavapura, Mandya, Kodagu and Vijayapura and also from neighbouring States of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
As per norms, the sacrificial goats and sheep should be in good health and free from any disability, diseases and injuries and must be at least one year old. They must be purchased a few days before the sacrifice and must be properly fed and well cared for in the intervening days.
Some sacrificial goats are groomed well and also fed to look white and attractive. The more attractive the sheep, the more expensive it becomes. Regular brushing of wool, hooves and horns are taken up by traders in their attempt to make their animals look brighter and fatter. Sheep with horns fetch more price than the ones without, say traders. From snipping of the body hair to giving sheep head massage and brushing the hair, they do it all.
“I got my stock of 40 goats from Bannur. This breed is the most favourite among locals. Though the prices have gone up this year, sales are picking up,” said Bilal Mehdi, a Shepherd from Bannur. When asked as to why Bannur breed tops the list, he explains “its meat is tender and has a different taste.”
Madhu, a native of Pandavapura, has got his stock of sheep from Chinakurali, near Pandavapura. “I have been coming here ahead of Bakrid from the past 15 years to sell Mylari Hybrid variety. My sheep weighs between 30 kgs and 50 kgs and I am selling them between Rs.30,000 and Rs. 40,000 for one sheep. People spend a lot of time negotiating the price and I bring down the prices if customers buy a set of 4 to 5 sheep,” he says.
Interestingly, the sheep have their own identities and names. Some of them are very camera-friendly as we experienced firsthand. A handsome pair ‘Gullu Bhai’ and ‘Sallu Bhai’ caught our attention. They adorned some fancy accessories. They are owned by Rafiq Ahmed, who can rattle out the names of all his sheep. “I stock them in my farm in Ranganathapura near Bannur. People buy goats from me not only to sacrifice but also to keep them at home and breed,” he says.
“I have transported them from Vijayapura and it is the Mylari breed. This year I had got a stock of 50 sheep and I have regular customers who have been coming to me since the past 20 years. My sheep weights between 20 and 40 kgs and I charge according to its size and features,” says Kalegowda, a shepherd.