What a girl learned at the bakra mandi

Don't wear open, delicate shoes; you are certain to step in cow dung, and on a barefoot, that's not pleasant!

Laraib Kamal October 26, 2012
Women normally hear stories about the bakra mandi (goat market) from the male members of the family. The place is considered forbidden for some females while others are simply not interested.

Being a girl looking at giant animals for sacrifice does amuse me and this year I finally got the opportunity to visit this place as I was deathly curious to know why is it such a ‘fun-land’ to males. It is quite noticeable that the goat sacrifice trend has been over-taken by cow or bull sacrifice just because men love large animals or dare I say, men love to show off their large animals. When you hear men around you talk with excitement about the mandi you do get the idea that it’s like a “free-zoo” exclusive to just cows and bulls. 

A man decorates a sacrificial camel ahead of Eidul Azha. PHOTO: EXPRESS/ MOHAMMAD NOMAN

(Photo: Express/Mohammad Noman)

Approaching it from a distance, the mandi seemed like a circus to me, continuously under a sand storm with dust blowing around like in the Sahara desert. Big vehicles drove around carrying animals guarded by men, who made guttural sounds like they had just hunted down a ferocious beast as opposed to the reality of having bought a herbivore!

Interestingly, there are were two deep trenches dug right before the market where men normally slide down and then climb up to proceed. So here is a warning; people who are allergic to dust must not to roll their car windows down at any cost if they are to visit this auspicious market.

Moreover, when you reach the place you must cover your mouth with a mask to filter the air you breathe in. This is vital if you are to survive the animal stench that will undoubtedly flood your nostrils. Don't be fooled in to believing that you will be bale to smell anything pleasant here; this won't happen, not even if you break an entire bottle of your favourite perfume around you. The place will forever smell like a dairy farm even after the animals are removed from there.

The amusing, yet tiring custom of this market is the same as for any market where a women shops; you must visit the entire market, every single stall. The you should bargain viciously for every animal that you like and buy the best one available in your budget. People spend hours to find themselves the best cattle possible. Some people bring motorcycles; so they can conveniently roam around this zoo-land! Jokes apart, I saw them!

(Photo: Online)

Walking towards the more exclusive stalls you might come across gigantic bulls nicely displayed on a mounted stage of mud like a car in a showroom. Men praise these ‘cow’ models more than they praise fashion-models - yes, it is a truly one-of-a-kind culture.

Some of these animals were covered with shiny and colourful decoratives, often over-accessorised wearing colourful antennas on their heads reminding you of the looney toon character, Marvin the Martian.

A Pakistani Muslim man shows his bull to customers at an animal market for the traditional animal sacrifice festival Eid in Islamabad on November 1, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

(Photo: AFP)

Donkeys too, were seen among these bulls standing with pride as if they too were part of the association of these mighty bulls.

Walking through these animals was like walking through deadly traps of swinging tails and unbalanced heavy animals who might step on your feet if you are not too careful.

(Photo: Nefer Sehgal)

So, here is some friendly advice; never, ever wear delicate kolhapuri chappals or sandals if you intend to go to a bakra mandi. You might have to walk like a ballerina moving quickly on your toes between these animals, their waste and the abundant mud and fodder. I know no girl would want cow dung on her bare foot, so beware!

Not only were these animals gigantic but they were very expensive too. People were rushing towards tents that had a bull worth 4 million rupees! Can you believe it? Such high prices definitely raise questions more pertinent to women – how much they could have shopped instead with all this money! I jest, don't jump on the bash Laraib bandwagon just yet!

I must say that I had a fantastic time at the mandi this year, and I will be going next year as well. It is an experience worth experiencing, so do try it whenever you get the chance.

People in Pakistan decorate their sacrificial animals to express their feelings towards the animals. PHOTO: EXPRESS/ MUHAMMAD JAVAID

(Photo: Express/Muhammad Javaid)

Follow Laraib on Twitter @LaraibKamal1

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated the price to be Rs40 million. This has been changed.

Laraib Kamal A mass communication undergrad studying at the University of Karachi, Laraib likes to explore, travel and write. She tweets as @LaraibKamal1 https://twitter.com/LaraibKamal1
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