Near the Muslim-populated areas in the Muslim quarter, Sultanpet or even in Kottakuppam, herds of sheep and goat have arrived from different parts of Tamil Nadu, and some from within the Union Territory, on the eve of the Islamic festival of sacrifice, which is commonly called Bakrid.
Two brothers Mohammad and Nawaz sit on the side of the road next to a small cage filled with sheep that have come in from Gingee.
“We come here every year to sell sheep. Typically, there is a lot more demand in Puducherry and Kottakuppam, since there is a large Muslim population. Most of the sheep are earmarked to specific customers, days before the actual festival. Usually, we just come here in time to distribute them. Each sheep costs anywhere between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 12,000,” one of them explains.
The most prestigious of the lot is the camel, but, this year, since the prices are so high and there is a ban on camel slaughter, there are no camels coming in to Puducherry.
However, a few might be slaughtered in the rural areas, Mohammad said.
The goats are a little cheaper, but since it is a special occasion which focuses on sacrifice, sheep are in higher demand amongst people who can afford it.
Eid-al-Adha or Bakrid is celebrated to mark the occasion of Prophet Ibrahim’s sacrifice of his son, Ishmael. According to the legend, Ibrahim dreamt that Allah had asked him to sacrifice the person dearest to him to test his faith to God. Ibrahim then decided to sacrifice his son Ishmael. When he was told about the decision, Ishmael readily agreed to the sacrifice, but, at the last moment, Allah commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice a sheep instead, since he had passed the test of faith.
Muslims around the world believe that by sacrificing goats for Bakrid, they are reaffirming their faith in Allah and the Quran.
The meat of the goat or sheep that is sacrificed is to be divided into three parts – one for personal consumption, another for one’s friends and family and the third to be given to the poor and needy, Mohammad said.
On the occasion of Bakrid, Lieutenant Governor Virendra Kataria, Chief Minister N. Rangasamy and Union Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy wished the people of the Union Territory.
In his message, the LG said the true spirit of the festival would propagate the principals of compassion, peace, sacrifice and brotherhood.
The Chief Minister commended the practice of donating food to the poor, which helps build bonds between people. Mr. Narayanasamy wished all Muslim people, especially those in Puducherry on the occasion.