Eidul Azha: In DHA, yaks, albino cows promise spectacular sacrifice for those who can’t afford them

Published: November 5, 2011

These camels at the DHA Phase V house respond to voice commands to sit down. The animals were constantly brushed to prevent flies from bothering them. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESS

These camels at the DHA Phase V house respond to voice commands to sit down. The animals were constantly brushed to prevent flies from bothering them. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESS

These camels at the DHA Phase V house respond to voice commands to sit down. The animals were constantly brushed to prevent flies from bothering them. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESS

KARACHI: The 2.5-million-rupee black cow the size of a dumper truck is a star attraction at a businessman’s marquee in DHA Phase V where they had to post a traffic policeman to manage the gridlock.

The long queues of families with excited children line up during the day and night outside the tent, which is a temporary home to nearly 70 imported beasts ahead of Eidul Azha. Everyone endures a body check by private guards before being herded past the walk-through gates. Inside, CCTV cameras monitor every little move whether on four legs or two.

To one side you will see the herd of yaks, the kind you find in the Himalayan region. Since Karachi’s heat is alien to them, the owner has installed air conditioners in this section. Meet the goats from Turkey and next door a set of their Afghan cousins.

Five camels, including a giraffe-sized one that the owner claims is the tallest in Pakistan, are having their fur shampooed. A special barber from rural Sindh had been summoned to create beautiful patterns all over their humps. Especially flown in from Islamabad was one cow, described as a cross between an Australian bull and a Pakistani cow. There were around 29 such breeds at the venue. But for the children the real attraction was the rare pair of albino cows. Traffic policeman Manzoor, who has been posted outside the tent, says that after 8pm, the spectator rush is “insane” and the small lane gets choked frequently.

The middle-aged owner of this spectacular bovine and camelidae display insists, however, that this was not an exhibition of his massive wealth. He specifies that he does not want to be named, as “Islam doesn’t allow showing off.”

The jury may still be out on whether it is kosher to hold such open house invitations to exotica but in a city like Karachi this much is clear, not everyone has the money to sacrifice a yak. And while each Muslim manages according to their pocket, the DHA Phase V marquee does contrast starkly with the Eid preparations going on in other parts of the city.

Landhi’s plumber Abrar, for example, who supports his family of three on Rs20,000 a month, will not be able to make a sacrifice this year. “Each year the prices keep going up,” he said. “People like me first shifted from buying goats to taking part in ijtimai qurbani [collective sacrifices], but the prices of that too have sky rocketed.”

For his part, economist Dr Kaiser Bengali interprets the DHA case as a “reflect[ion of] an obnoxious display of wealth and brazen insensitivity to the plight of millions.” But, he argues that it is not new that thousands of people struggle to buy a goat for Rs7,000.

“What is significant is that even the middle class is now afflicted with a kind of poverty,” he said, citing the example of people who have jobs but are squeezed tight by the cost of making it there. The class divide and unequal distribution of wealth is supported by the numbers. For each rupee increase in the national income, the richest 10% of the people in the country gain 34 paisas, while the poorest 10% get 3 paisas only. Perhaps one advantage to the DHA tent full of international sacrificial animals is that many deserving people will get a taste of rich meat this Eid.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th,  2011.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • Pakistani
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:50AM

    The last two paragraphs summed it correctly. Unfortunately every thing is ritualism in Pakistan now, sacrifice is loosing its spirit. Instead now its turning into another way to showoff wealth. Sighsssss Air Conditions for cows and here I am hard time collecting 80K for a patient suffering from Oral Cancer. Sighsss

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  • Arsalan Ahmad
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:08AM

    as Dr. Kaiser said truly an obnoxious way to show off wealth

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  • Kamal
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:19AM

    You know sometimes I wonder whether this eerie interest in slaughtering animals (as in the processions and how they are paraded along like that) borders on being morbid rather than sacrificial…I wonder what the man, whom we try to emulate, would say about how we tend to conduct ourselves on ‘ Bakra Eid ‘ …

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  • Nov 5, 2011 - 4:42AM

    Isn’t it impressive that they didn’t ticket the expensive-animal-exhibition and are giving a free show. How considerate!

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  • Sid
    Nov 5, 2011 - 10:04AM

    Each year we all know that the prices for such animal is getting out of the reach of an average person. I wonder why any concerted efforts are missing among both private as well as government sector to invest in the live stock farming. There is a lot of opportunity not only to cater the local market consumption but also for exports. I am not sure if any incentives are being offered by the government to promote this segment. It needs to be carried out in some more organized manner. The way Australians, New zealanders and other meat exporting countries are conducting. Hopefully that will help to bring the prices down.Recommend

  • Was A Pakistani
    Nov 5, 2011 - 11:16AM

    I hate visiting Pakistan during eid Al Adha due to the pomp and vulgar show and mistreatment of animals. We are a barbaric nation who instead of being humble on eid record videos and then post it on youtube as an event.

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  • Dev
    Nov 5, 2011 - 11:37AM

    If pakistan is so comfortable with terror, killing and slaughter, you need not look very far on one of the reasons why ? Here is the line…

    The long queues of families with excited children line up during the day and night outside the tent, which is a temporary home to nearly 70 imported beasts ahead of Eidul Azha.

    What else do you expect out of people for whom butchery, cruelty, and taking pride in such bloodletting ? Pls sanitise yourself if you want civility to return to the country.

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  • Nov 5, 2011 - 1:38PM

    Irrespective of religion, slaughtering animals in the name of festive rituals is barbaric, nonsensical and speaks volumes for deriving sadistic pleasure in witnessing death. It indicates the savage nature of we the people, in whichever we are. I feel ashamed that such practices exist across all religions, albeit the scale is deadly and high in the Islamic faith. A minuscule section of Hindus also indulges in such so-called sacrifices. Ironically, it is truly secular in character.

    The writer captures both the irony and vulgar display of wealth on the eve of a festival very well. As usual, I find many Pakistani news reports and articles interesting ! Superbly written.

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  • Adeel
    Nov 5, 2011 - 1:54PM

    @ Dev:

    That was just plain uncalled for! Those people are not lining up to gawk at and take pleasure from butchery; they are just there to look at a menagerie of exotic animals. That is an entirely natural thing to do and would be expected in any part of the world. As a nation, I don’t think we in Pakistan are any more accepting of violence in general than are people elsewhere. A proliferation in violence doesn’t necessarily mean greater acceptance of it. Please get your logic right.

    That said, I am assuming from your name that you are not from Pakistan. If true, that is fine; thoughtful inputs into Pakistan’s problems should be welcomed no matter where they come from. However, just because you are from some relatively more stable part of the world, you are not automatically qualified to make sweeping statements about a society you have no inside knowledge of. I don’t mean to be condescending, but trying to understand Pakistan through news reports means that you have a bad case of “selection bias” going on. Please look that up as I am sure you have no idea what that means.

    Also, I suppose you meant “sensitize” and not “sanitize”? You need to work on that vocabulary!

    I am very irked by every Tom, Dick and Harry mouthing off inanities about my country. If you want to say something, at least make sense.

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  • Khan
    Nov 5, 2011 - 2:41PM

    We have forgotten the true spirit of qurbani, may Allah guide us all. amin

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  • Scr
    Nov 5, 2011 - 3:06PM

    @Dev:
    Stop killing those poor potatoes!!! Vegetables have feelings to you know!

    wasnt it your Gandhi who said judge a nation by how they treat animals?Recommend

  • Nero
    Nov 5, 2011 - 4:03PM

    So cruel to kill poor innocent animals!!! I am shocked!!!!Recommend

  • Human
    Nov 5, 2011 - 5:28PM

    Its just that whenever they talk of sacrifice, I just remember : Daniel Pearl. Poor soul lost his life, neither as a CIA/RAW agent but for being a US jewish journalist. Still Taliban & its supporters hoorifically link it to the way animals are sacrificed. There is no doubt that religious fanaticism & killings/sacrifices in the name of Isalm is whats derailing Pakistan & the good day like EID will only be used for more radicilization & jihad justification. May allah have mercy on all of its creation.Recommend

  • sam
    Nov 5, 2011 - 6:27PM

    i can see how this eid can be taken as a symbol of cruelty to animals and believe me, i do share some of the same sentiments. however, in my mind this is no worse than the millions of animals that are killed everyday to feed our ever growing global population. how is the death of a chicken that is scolded in a factory to be converted into a McChicken any better than a goat that meets his end and the sharp end of a knife? for a human point of view, i think it is better that people see the animal that is being killed to feed them than see a happy looking Chicken holding up Chicken wings at a local fast food restaurant.

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  • Ali Tanoli,
    Nov 5, 2011 - 7:11PM

    @Nero and all others indian friends,
    did u guys ever see what cruelity is then please visit spain and watch Rodeo how those guys killed the Bull after making him bleed all over and come to american butchers centres
    and witniced how animals dies and also this Eid is concept of remembering prophet ibrahim
    and his son ismael on the call of god almighty and one more thing just u guys hate islam
    then every thing what ever related to it u hate em please go and find some books and read
    the background with cleans heart and then decide it and one last thing Humans killing in
    iraq and afghanistan and even in india low cast untouchables are more secred than these
    animals which are nature made for us so we can enjoy it and get some protien from it.

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  • Santosh
    Nov 5, 2011 - 7:56PM

    @Adeel:
    There was a recent report on the hygiene implications of mass slaughters on the street. Also, everyone visiting the menagerie is aware of the imminent death of these animals. Consider a question from a child which asks what is to happen to the magnificent furry yak in front of it. What lies would hide the obvious killing that is to happen? Desensitization is not always the result of watching the act.
    Also I wonder if any of these are in the true spirit of sacrifice. The sacrifice of Abraham, where he almost sacrificed his son is upheld as an example. But there he fought against the pain of giving up something he loved dearly. I doubt any of these owners feel that sort of love to these animals. Then there is a question of sacrificing, so that the meat can be fed to the poor, where one would argue that less exotic local beasts are best for this. Hey it will even promote the local live stock industry than importing Yaks.
    Thirdly if it is only about feeding the poor, they can be fed protein from many sources, fish, pulses, chickens etc. This insistence that only mammals will do is really unexplainable.
    The problem with these public displays is that subconsciously the public accepts the the eventual fate of the animal.

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  • WhocareswhoamI
    Nov 5, 2011 - 10:23PM

    @Scr: The most important thing that you need to know or probably your biology teacher forgot to teach you in school is that “PLANTS DONT HAVE A NERVOUS SYSTEM”. But to enjoy this form of butchery with miles of flowing blood surely needs a lot of sadistic attitude.

    And by the way, if you want give something to god – give up your vices (whatever they are). An animal bought by mere exchanging of man-made currency can never ever please God/Allah/Bhagwan. What you need to learn is the sincerity of Prophet Ibrahim, which alas you guys wil never learn. Doing things just for symbolic sake doesnt earn you a penny of sawab.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Nov 5, 2011 - 11:30PM

    @ Sontosh
    God knows the hearts of every human being in the world and he knows who is doing right
    and who is rong we cant judge some body deeds and beef has enzymes good for lever
    health and Co Q10 is good blood cerculation in heart..

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  • Adeel
    Nov 6, 2011 - 4:03AM

    @ Santosh:

    And your point is? My comment really has nothing to do with any of these issues that you are raising. It has primarily to do with the fallacious understanding Dev took away from this article. I can understand and respect alternative views on animal suffering, psychological trauma, environmental and health hazards, and whatever else associated with how the eid of sacrifice is celebrated, but lets not get carried away with flimsy conclusions. You are really not being very rigorous with your “psychological-subconscious” notions. There is nothing in the history of our world that unproblematically correlates treating animals as a source of food, a means to an end or as less than human, with greater levels of violence and some sense of decreased “humanity”.

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  • Anonymous
    Nov 6, 2011 - 7:10AM

    @ Santosh

    I was a kid too once who watched numerous sacrifices. I too, asked my parents the instinctive questions about pain and death awaiting the animals. The same animals that I had fed, washed, took out for walks, etc. The response was was that these animals don’t undergo pain or suffering. They’re soul is extracted before the knife hits the jugular and the animals rest in a better place for eternity. Although clearly this explanation is a matter of fate and there is no scientific proof that they don’t suffer an all; however, it was enough to save me from desensitization. The belief that God takes away their soul before blood is shed meant that I did not have to come to terms with what people of other faith label ‘cruelty’ and ‘barbaric’ practices. Muslim kids would probably still be devastated to see any animal in pain or butchered the un-islamic way because of his/her beliefs.

    As per the question of love for sacrificial animals, ordinary humans are neither expected, nor do they have the capacity to reach the level of the Prophets. The custom is merely a token of remembrance for what Abraham was prepared to sacrifice. However, it is the sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) that you purchase them well before the day of Eid, precisely because you can get attached to them in order to feel the sacrifice emotionally. It isn’t something which is being practiced upon but it certainly is there in the religion.

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  • research read and understand before you form an opinion
    Nov 7, 2011 - 2:28AM

    for all those who need to understand the philosophy of this Eid:

    “Qurbani is a demonstration of total submission to Allah and a proof of complete obedience to Allah’s will or command. When a Muslim offers a Qurbani, this is exactly what he intends to prove. When a true and perfect Muslim receives a command from Allah, he does not make his obedience dependent upon the command’s reasonability’ as perceived through his limited understanding. He knows that Allah is All-knowing, All-Wise and that his own reason cannot encompass the knowledge and wisdom underlying the divine command. He, therefore, submits to the divine command, even if he cannot grasp the reason or wisdom behind it. This is the true philosophy of Eid. It is done in the memory of this great model of submission set before us by the great father and the great son.

    With this in mind, one can easily unveil the fallacy of those who raise objections against Qurbani on the basis of economic calculations and depict it to be a wastage of money, resources and livestock. Unable to see beyond mundane benefits, they cannot understand the spirit Islam wants to plant and nourish among its followers, the spirit of total submission to Allah’s will which equips man with most superior qualities so necessary to keep humanity in a state of lasting peace and welfare”.

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  • MississaugaBUD
    Nov 7, 2011 - 4:39AM

    For NON-Karachites: The owner of these Animals is “Aqeel Karim Dhedhi aka AKD”

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  • Imran
    Nov 7, 2011 - 11:05PM

    I am from Pakistan and I say it’s totally messed up. I don’t know one person among my circle of people who identifies with Pakistan on a positive level. What is there positive? Tell me? Where on earth does that enable us to feed our dispossed or educate our children? Or for that matter provide medical treatment to our civilians? Anybody should feel free to make comments on our society irrespective of whether they live in our society or not since we as Pakistani’s have not managed to come up with any meaningful solutions to our predicaments. Recommend

  • Imran
    Nov 8, 2011 - 1:03PM

    Man u Pakistani’s are idiots. I’m Pakistani too but do I feel ashamed when anybody critters us we retort ” oh you dint understand us or Islam”. Truth is they understand us all to well so we can only bring up one deceptive argument “your anti-Islam” your anti this. Shows how low we have intellectually sunk.@Ali Tanoli,:

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  • Imran
    Nov 12, 2011 - 10:50PM

    can’t even understand what someone is conveying as a message. Have to come back with something as superficial as your argument.Adeel: Recommend

  • Imran
    Nov 12, 2011 - 10:56PM

    Sigh backward, regressive and totally outdated view. It’s views like yours that maintained our society in such a warped sickening mentality where progressive thought has no place in society, so every Pakistani wants to emigrate to countries where they practises intellectual thinking so that they can maintain their unthinking ghettos. read and understand before you form an opinion:

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  • Hash
    Nov 14, 2011 - 10:56PM

    boy those are some big horns, perfect for my ranch

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