August 20, 2018

Bakra Eid And Kota Goat

No sooner the bespectacled Muslim man, accompanied by two others, took his place on the platform with a large goat by the luggage compartment he quickly drew a small Sunday crowd of fellow passengers waiting for the same local train toward V.T.

With Bakra Eid (Eid al-Adha) around the corner it’s common to see goats appear on the streets of Mumbai and adjoining suburbs, munching on feed in front of shops and neighbourhoods before being led to slaughter on Bakra Eid, the Muslim festival of sacrifice. Needless to say the goats have little say in it.

As more people gathered around the goat, the Muslim man betrayed signs of nervousness, repeatedly looking in the direction of the train. There was no sign of it. Gradually he warmed up.

A little boy and a youth accompanied him. Clad in white salvar kurta and skull caps the three stood out in the sea of people crowding the railway platform without the large goat to accentuate their identity further.

“This goat is from Kota,” he said looking at me. “See its ears, they are long.”

He pulled the ears as the goat looked up at him, almost in affection, barely wincing as he pulled its ears at full stretch. They were indeed longer than any you see of local goats. The goat’s ears hung flat and long.

The Kota goat was a mix of black and white, easily over three feet tall standing on its long legs and at ease in the crowd surrounding it. It was majestic in its demeanour, stately in its bearing and cut an admirable figure in the crowd, little aware of the gruesome fate awaiting it at the hands of butchers on the day the Muslim world celebrated the sacrifice of animals as a festival.

“How much did it cost you,” I asked him.

“38,000 rupees,” he replied before adding 2,000 rupees more to the total to account for transportation form Kota in Rajasthan. “Total the Kota goat cost me 40,000 rupees,” he said.

The goats from Kota are raised for dairy and meat. Known as Karoli breed which I believe this goat belonged to, Kota sees large populations of goats on sale for slaughter as Bakra Eid approaches.   

A large goat, a costly goat is a symbol of wealth, a differentiator and a mark of prestige. Nothing less will do for those who can afford them and show them off on Bakra Eid.

Later in the day I came across another goat tied to water pipes on Modi Street in Fort. There was no crowd except for three people who kept a watch over it. The goat faced the wall. It only had a little more than a day to live.


Anonymous said...

Goats are allowed on passenger trains??

Anil P said...

Anonymous: This was a local suburban train. I suppose they are in the luggage compartment. Have seen many instances.