India’s 200 million Muslims are prepared for another subdued Eid al Adha as the country continues to battle COVID-19 with most states still under some level of lockdown. New COVID cases reached 38,164 in the last 24 hours, a drop of 995 from Sunday’s figures.
Livestock traders tell Salaam Gateway there is no shortage of animals for the Eid al Adha sacrifice but they expect demand to fall as more Indians have less money to spend this year as a result of the economic fallout of the pandemic.
The market is slow and there could be a drop in demand of up to 20%, said Habeeb Qureshi, the General Secretary of National Central Jamaitul Quresh, a trade and welfare body of animal traders and butchers in Hyderabad.
Livestock are brought in from various parts of India to the Muslim-dominated Hyderabad city of Telangana that has five government-run mandis, or makeshift animal markets, selling over 60,000 to 70,000 goats and sheep every year during Eid al Adha.
“There have been some difficulties in bringing animals from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan, because of which prices have increased a bit, but I think the situation will improve in a day or two,” said Habeeb.
Lockdowns and restrictions have driven more Indians to change how they order livestock for Eid al Adha sacrifice.
“Due to the COVID and social distancing norms, many have started the concept of farm-to-home where you can buy animals directly from farms and they will deliver meat to your house after cutting,” Habeeb said.
Residents outside of Hyderabad are also going online.
“We have taken the orders for cutting also. We have given them a time slot. So, they will come and we will slaughter the animal in front of them and then deliver meat to their places,” said Zeeshan Mulla of Kalyan, a Mumbai suburb.
“For other customers who are not able to come, we will do the slaughtering over video call and then deliver the meat to them,” he added.
Zeeshan procures animals from Madhya Pradesh and other parts of Maharashtra. He hopes to move around 300 animals this year, more than in 2020 as he allocated an extra two weeks to sell.
“After a bit of sluggish demand due to monsoon, and lockdown, the market has begun to pick up since Friday as people anyway start buying animals five to six days before the festival. Trading is going well,” he said.
Fellow Mumbai livestock trader Ahmed Atiqur Rahman said prices are a bit higher than last year, with live goats selling in the range of 400 to 500 rupees per kg ($5 - $6.70). Prices this year are generally higher by 50-100 rupees per kg compared to last year, depending on the type of animal and when they are bought.
“There is a good demand in the market that we are seeing. People are coming and buying animals and they are finding it affordable, too,” said Ahmed, who puts up mandis in Mumbai every year.
He brings animals from his farm in Nashik, 165 km from Mumbai, and is currently selling over 10 different goat breeds, in the range of 22,000 to 150,000 rupees each.
In the capital city, Ganesh Sankhla said there is no shortage of livestock supply.
“Animals are coming and people are selling them in mandis,” said Ganesh, who procures goats and sheep from wholesale animal markets in Rajasthan and sells them in Delhi.
“We are seeing good demand in the market,” said Ganesh. He sold around 2,500 goats last year but believe he may manage to sell only 300-400 animals this year.
Mass congregational prayers are prohibited in mosques in some states, including Maharashtra due to COVID restrictions.
But cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Kolkata have already opened up places of worship.
Salaam Gateway spoke to mosque trustees and religious leaders from several cities who said they are hopeful to offer the Eid al Adha prayer adhering to social distancing rules.
“You may not get to see those pictures of mass prayers in Delhi’s iconic Jama Masjid but mass prayers are allowed in mosques with social distancing norms,” said Tayyab Ahsan Baksh, trustee of Delhi’s Masjid Shahi Bagh Wali, near Chandni Chowk.
“We have been called several times by authorities who keep giving us various COVID-related instructions,” he added.
Religious leaders have appealed to fellow Muslims to follow social distancing rules and pray at home wherever mass congregational prayers are not allowed by their local government.
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