Feeling Deep Sadness


Having lived in Dubai for about 16 years, I always knew that Eidh was a major festival for the Muslims. I know that there are different types of Eid and, although I lived in a Muslim country for a very long time, I never really paid attention to Eid or its relevance. This was the same case in Mumbai, where i lived for 4 years and went to college. I knew there were a lot of Muslims in and around Mumbai, but then again, was too naive and nonchalant about Eidh and the way in which it is celebrated, especially Bakri Eid. Of course, I was in complete oblivion to all of this when I lived for 10 years in the USA , where for that matter, I was only clued into Christmas and Hanukkah, the two religious festivals that I found to be most popular in San Francisco.

This year round, I find myself extremely sad and helpless, as the Muslims around me have been gearing up for the last two weeks in preparation for Bakri Eidh. There are several kinds of Eidh celebrated in the Muslim calendar: Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Ada. Eid al-Ada, which is the main festival for Muslims worldwide, is also referred to as Bakri Eid. Bakri, in Hindi or Urdu, means “goat”. In essence, this is a festival where Muslims sacrifice an animal, such as a goat or an ox, in reverence to the almighty creator, Allah.

With all due respect to this religion and its people, I find it very disturbing to see (first hand) how these goats are reared for sacrifice. For the last few weeks I have been noticing all around me these beautiful, strong, peaceful animals being tied up and constantly being fed by its owner, in order to fatten them for the kill. I have been going to a client’s house for therapeutic work in the last several weeks and, every time I would pass by their home, I would see these two gorgeous goats tied up on a short rope and constantly fed greens.

All over the city, I see goats being tied up, while only a handful have the luxury of roaming around freely on the streets. I have also seen other instances where goats are being transported in taxis for the killing, where they have been pick up or purchased on the road side, where they have been taken from one location to another in private cars, where people walk with their goats with a big bunch of greens in their hands, so as to allure the goats to their destination, and so on. And what is the most saddening part is that these meek, gentle animals, willingly go with their owners, without any resistance, most likely not knowing that they are going to be slaughtered. It is a heart breaking sight when you know the truth.

Below is a link that explains the actual significance of Eid, where in the Old Testament of the biblical times, Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his only son, and when he blindly obeyed, God rewarded him by stating that he could sacrifice a goat or ram instead of his own flesh and blood.

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/india/eid-ul-adha

That story was meaningful in the Old testament, but this practice continues even now and in not the most humane ways. Here is a beautiful picture of a goat, an example of some of the many goats I have seen all around me in the last few weeks:

Sweet little one!

Sweet little one!

I really don’t understand, how so many animal sacrifices or celebrations are done where goats, cows, turkeys, lambs, and so on, are forced to give up their precious lives year after year. All I know is that when I go this week to my client’s house, the little backyard where those two goats sat for week after week, chewing away at their grass, will be empty and bare, leaving my heart a little more heavy than before.

 

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anin
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 21:54:17

    Thanks Rochelle for sharing this. A good reminder and reason to question why we do the things we do from a place of tradition and sometimes forgetting how it impacts our animal family and others.

    Reply

  2. Dr. Suri
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 22:13:39

    Thanks, Anin, for your sensitivity and kindness that you extending to all living beings. The world may just be a much better place if more people thought like you.

    Reply

  3. Spock Kris
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 12:46:04

    I understand your feelings, but if you are a non vegetarian ( as lot of non Muslims/HINDUS are in India) they need not get so sentimental, animals are butchered daily for satiating human hunger / appetite and if in the name of sacrifice one feast with family and friends and keep a portion of the feast for the less fortunate fellow beings it should be greatly appreciated .
    All religious festival in any religion are occasion for celebration and all so called offerings or sacrifices are ultimately consumed by human beings in the name of GOD!!

    Reply

  4. Dr. Suri
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 14:07:21

    Hi, Thanks for your feedback, which I appreciate. I hope we can engage in a healthy dialogue. I was a non-vegetarian for a while and at the age of 13, after reading Maneka Gandhi’s book “Heads and Tails”, my sister and I turned vegetarians. I am now even trying to be a vegan. So, I also used to kill animals to satiate my hunger until i learned that their lives are also important and precious. Also, a lot of things are done in “God’s” name, such as female infanticide, human sacrifice, genocides, and so on. Does that mean that all these acts are justified and should be pardoned because “God” is involved? It seems to me that sometimes we use “god” more for convenience than anything else. That’s just my two cents.

    Reply

    • Spock Kris
      Nov 08, 2011 @ 17:49:27

      Was surprised with such a prompt response!! No I wasn’t justifying any action I was only emphasizing that most rituals are in the name of GOD a social occasion to celebrate.
      I cannot extol the virtues of being a vegetarian / non vegetarian , I personally feel this terminology itself is misnomer non vegetarian, sound like they dont eat vegetables!! its probably better to call oneself herbivorous / carnivorous,

      My take on this is its purely a personal choice based on taste and smell rather than on sacredness of life. Life exist in all forms and is sacred whether in plants animals or fishes its gross in case of animals and more sublime in case of plants but same life is manifested in both, what is important is preserve the sacredness of LIFE and not kill life in any form for pleasure or greed ( hunting, killing for tusk,deforesting for commercial use ,sacrificing to god for personal aggrandizement.etc) but when life in any form is killed for personal sustenance / protection its god given right .
      We have variety of plants / animals herbivorous and carnivorous etc. lets be
      thankful to the Almighty for giving us these variety and not take some pseudo egoistical stand and holier than thou attitude to someone who has different value system or eating habits .Lets not be cruel to plants or animals lets kill it only when needed to satiate our hunger or other basic needs and not out of pleasure or greed. And even when killing lets kill with minimum pain to the living creature ( ie why Muslims advocate halal method of killing) and only for the benefit of society at large!!
      Regarding your point ‘ lot of things is done in name of GOD; you will realize that all these actions originate from human GREED to attain power / salvation wealth etc by appeasing GOD , you cant blame belief in GOD for that rather you ve to blame the inherent HUMAN GREED for bringing GOD to the level of HUMAN being and believing you can barter with god and strike a good deal with HIM..

      Its only in Muslims you find the social responsibility enshrined in every action of their beliefs there is always a commandment to contribute to the well being of the less fortunate and by money and food they ( the less fortunate ones) are given not as alms or charity but as their right to partake in the celebration and festivity in praise of the LORD!!

      Reply

  5. Spock Kris
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 09:47:12

    I meant omnivorous ( people who eat veg & non veg)

    Reply

  6. Dr. Suri
    Nov 13, 2011 @ 13:34:24

    Thanks for your comments. I am all for praising the “Lord” and respecting the sanctity of all life, be it plants, animals, and insects. In fact, even as a vegetarian, I am guilty of taking plant life, although common sense dictates that plants naturally have a shorter life compared to animals, and the fruits and vegetables that we eat fall of the trees and rot and decay in a few days, which is probably why it is less painful to consume products from the plant kingdom than from the animal kingdom. Just a thought! Also, I’d like to add that I am not taking “some pseudo egoistical stand and holier than thou attitude to someone who has different value system or eating habits”. Again, the intention is to have a healthy dialogue, as I mentioned in the beginning of my first response to you. People can and will chose to do what they want in the end.

    I have also looked up the “Halal” method on several websites on the internet and have found much controversy over this method. While the intention of this method was/is to cause as little suffering to the animal, there are conflicting views on whether this goal, of minimizing pain, is actually achieved. I suggest you do some research of your own before making such broad assumptions. And may I also add that it is not just amongst Muslims, as you state, that there is “social responsibility”. Many other religions in the world espouse social responsibility and communal kindness, especially religions such as Sikhism, Christianity, and Buddhism.

    In any case, thanks for your responses and wish you the very best.

    Reply

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