Eid shopping at feverish pitch in Kashmir

By F. Ahmed, IANS,

Srinagar : Eid shopping touched a feverish pitch in this summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir as thousands of Muslims thronged markets to buy new clothes, sweetmeat, cakes, cellphones and gift items for the festival to be celebrated Tuesday.

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Ahead of the Eid-ul-Zuha, or Bakr-Eid, one of the holiest Muslim festivals, roads in the uptown areas of Srinagar were jammed on the weekend with people jostling against one another to buy goods from pavement sellers and vendors who had taken over the pavements and converted these into Eid markets.

Markets at many places were flooded with sheep and goats, which Muslims buy for sacrificial offerings on the Eid-ul-Zuha – also meaning the festival of sacrifice.

Bakr-Eid commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son Prophet Ismail on the god’s command.

According to a Muslim belief, Allah wanted to test Ibrahim’s faith and commanded him to sacrifice his son. Ibrahim agreed to do it but considering what a difficult task it was, he blindfolded himself before putting Ismail on the altar at the mount of Mina near Makkah.

When he removed his blindfold after performing the act, he saw his son standing in front of him, alive. On the altar lay a slaughtered lamb instead. Sacrificing goats on Bakr-Eid is, therefore, in commemoration of that incident.

In preparation for the festival, people bought readymade garments, bakery, sweetmeat, mutton, chickens. Especially the local willow wicker fire-pots, or ‘kangri’, are in high demand this Eid.

“With electric power remaining as elusive as ever, our best bets to keep body and soul together during the winter months are ‘pheren'(tweed over garment) and kangri,” said Saif-ud-Din, 43, a resident of the old city.

Makeshift bazaars selling woollens have come up at many places in the city.

“I have to buy jerseys for the whole family. Most of the woollens available this time in shops are costly and buying them at a bargain from the pavement sellers is a good idea,” said Sharifa, 48, a local nurse while moving out with her packets of woollens in the fashionable Residency Road area of the city.

But people complained about the lack of price control over the sacrificial animals.

“The traders in sheep and goats are asking formidable prices for their animals. I have to buy a sheep for sacrifice, but am yet to find one that would suit my purse,” said Niyaz Ahmad, 34, a government employee.

Although the administration has made arrangements for sale of sacrificial animals to the locals this Eid, the sheer demand was too much to be met by the official supply of such animals.

The younger generation Kashmiris are among the most ardent Eid shoppers, but their preferences are different from their parents.

“My father would buy clothes, mutton, sacrificial sheep and bakery for the family. I am right now looking for a reasonably priced cell phone,” said Mubashir Ahmad, 18, a college student.

“I have also to buy some music CDs, but you see most of the CDs in the market are pirated and become useless after a few days.”

Fire-cracker sellers also did a brisk business, as children accompanying parents buy them for fun on Eid.

“This is a festive occasion and I am buying my eight-year-old son a lot of fire-crackers so that he enjoys Eid with his friends. My only worry is that he should be careful while lighting them,” said Muhammad Akram Bhat, 46, a businessman.

Authorities have made elaborate arrangements for availability of essential supplies like foodstuffs, edible oils, cooking gas and kerosene oil.

“There is no dearth of essential supplies anywhere in the Kashmir Valley and we have also deputed market checking squads to keep prices under control,” said a government official.