‘I won’t bear its sacrifice’: Emotions grip Kashmir ahead of Eid-Ul-Azha

Juggu tries to hug Hassan. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

While the cityscape is losing its space gradually, the over-congestion and lawn-less structures force many people to buy sacrificial animals just one or two days before Eid-ul-Azha.

In the winding alleys of old city, Muhammad Hasan’s residence looks a typical Downtownish—a three-story house, windows painted in brownish orange and a long pathway connecting the main gate. The heritage house with rundown façade has a deserted ‘dub’.

Sitting in a retreat mode, the old man with hennaed beard had rosary in his hand. Shifting his meditative mood, Hasan rose up to peek through his room window. Sighting him, Juggu speedily showed up.

Juggu – The Goat. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

Juggu is a two-year-old goat, brought home by Hasan’s daughter, Henna.

Hasan came out of his room and sat on a chair in the square-shaped part of the pathway. Sporting a black khan dress, the elder called Juggu in a high-pitched voice, “Juga! Yapear ha” (Look here, Juggu!)

In response, Juggu lifted its head and bleated faintly. “I don’t know what I’ll do when this beloved will be sacrificed?” Hasan questioned himself.

Two years ago, when Juggu was a kid, wrapped in a cloth, it was handed over to Henna by her friend. “When she got her home, we were confused what to do with it. But, then we got a feeder and handfed it. Now, it’s just like my own son,” Hasan narrated while remembering the initial days of Juggu.

Ram peeks its head out of vehicle as buyers flock Eidgarh Srinagar for sacrificial animals. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

Juggu, tied to a rope, spends its day outside the house. The goat has become the talk of the town as kids come to play with it every day, said Hasan with a glow in his eyes. “During night, it enters the room through window. Sometimes, it would climb up the stairs and come to my room. It even sleeps on my mattress.”

After a brief pause, Hassan looked towards his beloved pet and asked it in a light mood, “Juga! Che karnay kichi michi” (Juggu! Will you be sacrificed?).

Juggu left the spot hearing this, and went outside the main gate. “I won’t bear his sacrifice,” the elder said. “I will go to my sister’s place at that time.”

Muhammad Sultan with his grandson and a pair of sheep. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

While the cityscape is losing its space gradually, the over-congestion and lawn-less structures force many people to buy sacrificial animals just one or two days before Eid-ul-Azha.

Muhammad Sultan Mir, a resident of Narwara area of Srinagar, has bought a pair of sheep for Eid. Along with his grandson and the sacrificial pair, he was walking on Dr. Ali Jan Road.

Looking for a place to feed the sheep, they crossed the road and stopped at the divider, separating the two opposite lanes of the road. While his grandson was holding a stick in his hand, Sultan soberly directed the sheep towards the grass grown on the divider.

“I brought this pair a couple of days ago. Now, I thought of taking them for a walk,” Sultan said while scratching the head of one sheep. “I got very much attached to both of them. I wish I had some space, then I would’ve bought them a year ago.”

While Sultan felt heavy thinking about the city congestion issue, his sheep sniffed his hand. “They also got attached to me,” expressed Sultan after getting pampered by his pet. “This is the nature of these voiceless creatures.”

A shepherd walking with his flock of cattle at Eidgah, Srinagar. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

A couple of weeks before Eid-ul-Azha, Eidgah ground becomes Srinagar’s largest mandi where different varieties and species of animals are put on sale. From sheep, goat, cows, buffaloes and sometimes camels, people along with their children can be seen looking for cheaper rates of animals.

Amused people clicking pictures of a camel in Eidgah during sunset. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

While every species seems normal, the sight of camel takes everyone by surprise.

“We’ve brought it from Rajasthan,” Showkat Ahmad, owner of the camel replied to the query of a customer. While Showkat has priced his camel at Rs 90,000, people were more interested in clicking selfies than buying it.

According to Showkat, he has already sold three camels and came from Anantnag to find a possible buyer for his fourth one.

A child trying to pull a sheep while the other running towards another sheep. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

Away from the buzz of Eidgah Mandi, Shahid along his friends were playing with sheep and cows their parents had brought for Qurbani.

As most of the areas of city don’t have any grazing ground, the residents of Chinar Bagh are using their surroundings as a grazing ground.

Shahid standing in between two sacrificial animals. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

Shahid was carrying a stick in his hand to direct his bovine towards a greener area. Along with his ox, he was also taking care of the other animals of his relatives and neighbours.

According to him, he has spent all these days with his ox and likes to play with him.

“Once we will sacrifice him, I’ll miss him very badly,” jovial Shahid expressed worryingly.

A young bull of a villager tied to a rope in his backyard. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

The Qurbani fever in villages is different from that of cityscape.

While almost every villager has his own agricultural land or at least a lawn which can accommodate an animal, people buy sacrificial animal months or sometimes years before Eid-ul-Azha.

Sahil gives playtime to his goat while bathing him. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

In the Bumbrath area of Kulgam district, Sahil’s family has brought a goat.

The boy spends most of the time feeding branches and leaves to the sacrificial animal.

Beneath Sahil’s house, flows a channel of water from a natural spring. When he feels rise in temperature, he along with his friends takes his goat for a bath.

While Sahil holds the long nylon rope to which his goat is tied, his friends help him to move the animal forward by patting its back.

Bull of Sahil’s neighbor resting after a long grazing time. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

Opposite of Sahil’s house, his neighbours has bought a young bull for Qurbani.

Just like the households in city, where these animals need to be fed many times a day, his neighbours set their animal free in a patch of land for grazing.

Through the patch of land, a stream flows from which the bull drinks water.

“We only have to take these animals to their respective places, rest they manage on their own,” says a passerby while drinking water from the stream. “They eat, drink and sleep according to their wish.”

Altaf kisses Juggu realizing it will be sacrificed on Eid. [FPK Photo/Amir Bin Rafi.]

However, despite having less space, Hasan and his family treat Juggu as a ‘king’.

“When it was a kid, it had even peed on my mattress,” Hassan remembered.

Although Juggu gets equal love from all the family members, it’s most attached to Hassan’s youngest son, Altaf.

“He (Altaf) gets Juggu chips, chocolate and sometimes soft drinks also,” said Hassan while scrolling Altaf’s number on his phone.

When Altaf came, Juggu stood up from the ground and in excitement lifted its front legs and placed its hooves on Altaf’s palms.

Although this display of love and affection from an animal towards its beloved ended in a blink, it left a ‘permanent mark’ on his master’s ‘heart’.

Instead of entering his home, Altaf sat on the stairs of a shop stall outside his house and within no time Juggu went to hug him and started rubbing its forehead against Altaf’s arms.

Altaf in return, patted its forehead, scratched its face and placed his lips against its forehead.

The scenes of bliss ended when Altaf stood up to get Juggu some food, mumbling, “Be kya kare eamis warai?” (What will I do without it?).

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