For muslims in the city, the festival of Bakrid isn’t just about sacrificing animals. It is a reaffirmation of their faith in Allah and Quran.
For hundreds of herdsmen who come to Delhi from across the country to sell their goats, it is the culmination of an entire year’s hard work, their annual pay check, and, in some cases, their sole means of sustenance.
Hailing from small hamlets in Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan and UP, lugging livestock in their make-shift lorries, most come to the city a week in advance to get the best price. Here, they stay in ‘bakri bazaars’ or huge playgrounds which double up as residences for the livestock and herdsmen.
“In Delhi, one tends to get a better price compared to Mumbai or Chennai. So I decided to come here,” Gulshan from Mewat, who has set up shop in Old Delhi’s Meena Bazaar, along with more than 25,000 such herdsmen, says.
Priced anywhere between Rs 50 and Rs 1,50,000, one can find goats in all shapes, sizes and colours at the mandi. “What I earn here is what I have to make do with throughout the year. So, this time is crucial,” he says.
Each herdsman can expect to earn anywhere between Rs 5 to Rs 10 lakh for his animals, depending upon their quality — money that sustains them till next year.
The cut-throat competition also explains the haggling most buyers and sellers engage in. “But every shop keeper knows his prized animals, and on them, there’s no haggling,” Gulshan says.
Recognising a good animal from a mediocre one, however, is not a thing for amateurs. Most customers, therefore, prefer to bring a butcher or herdsmen with them. “But eventually, what counts is the beauty of the animal. Jo aankon ko bhata hai, wahi bikta hai (what pleases the eye is what sells),” Wajid Khan, who bought a six-year-old goat for Rs 1 lakh, says.
This year, the price of animals has seen a steep rise. But that’s no worry for some. “Most of my herd is already earmarked for certain customers. On an average, each goat costs between Rs 5000-Rs10,000,” Aamir, another herdsman,