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.
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:
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.