Eid brings back smiles to Kashmiri faces

By F. Ahmed, IANS
Monday, November 15, 2010

SRINAGAR - Preparations for Eid-ul-Azha festival are bringing back gaiety, fervour and vibrancy in the life of Kashmiris, who have been scarred by the flare up of the separatist movement in the last five months.

Markets in the Valley thronged with shoppers Monday, as people got busy with preparations for the Muslim holy festival, to be celebrated Wednesday. Summer capital Srinagar saw traffic moving at snail’s pace.

The festival is celebrated in honour of Abrahim, who was even willing to sacrifice his son Ismail to please Allah. According to Muslim belief, Allah replaced Ismail with a sheep just as Abrahim was about to slit the throat of his son.

Animal markets were particularly crowded.

Goatherds from different parts of the state, especially from Poonch and Rajouri districts, arrived here with their well reared livestock.

Although the state government fixed the prices of live goat and sheep at Rs.95 and Rs.100 per kilogram, respectively, the animals were sold at much higher rates.

I bought two sheep for Rs.15,000 yesterday, but I am satisfied as the animals are healthy and well reared. There’s no use running around, looking for places which sell the animals at the official rates,” said Bashir Ahmad, 54, who purchased sacrificial animals from the Eidgah grounds here, where hundreds of animals are sold daily.

Nobody would be allowed to sell sacrificial animals except at places which have been identified by the authorities, said a senior officer of the local consumer affairs and public distribution department.

But the ban was observed more in breach than in practice.

Mutton, poultry, bakery items, milk, garments, shoes and other essentials were in high demand.

I bought a synthetic blanket for Rs.2,000 from a shop in uptown city, while my brother bought a similar blanket in the old city for half the price,” said Manzoor Ahmad, 45, a government employee.

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani, who spearheaded the five-month-long campaign in the Valley, had earlier asked the locals to celebrate the festival in an austere manner. But the state’s crowded markets were buzzing with defiance.

For traders and shopowners, who were affected the most due to the frequent shutdowns, this year’s Eid is literally a blessing.

“I earned almost nothing for the last five months. All my savings have been spent. Eid is one of those rare occasions when I can make some money, so that my family also enjoys the festival,” said Fayaz Ahmad, 32, who set up a hand cart in Regency Road area of the city. His jackets and woollen garments were selling briskly.

Many pavement sellers like him set up their carts in Lal Chowk, in the heart of Srinagar.

Meanwhile, police and traffic officials were eager to maintain the festive atmosphere.

If some sellers are using the pavements for selling their goods, it is not fair to stop them. They too have the right to earn a little during this time, said a senior police officer.

Happiness, enthusiasm and the hustle-bustle seen here today is definitely an Eid miracle. It is not always that one sees smiles on the faces of the locals here,” said Naseer Ahmad, a local journalist.

(F. Ahmed can be contacted at f.ahmed@ians.in)

Filed under: Religion

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