You know it’s Eid-al-Azha’s season when every other street in Pakistan looks nothing less than a cattle farm. Every year, Pakistanis sacrifice millions of cows, goats, sheep, and camels to observe the Islamic ritual of Qurbani – also known as Sunnat-e-Ibrahimee.
Pakistanis sacrificed animals worth a whopping $2.5 billion in 2021. According to the Arab News, Pakistanis had sacrificed animals worth Rs400 billion last year.
The numbers, while unofficial, still show how the Pakistani society collectively likes to extravagantly spend moolah on animals for Eid-al-Azha. And while that is usually the case, the same cannot be said this year.
With inflation skyrocketing against the backdrop of a dwindling economy, people from the middle-class and the lower-class are forced to watch the generous elites slaughtering animals worth millions of rupees from afar.
“How do I tell my kids that I am not in a position to buy even chicken meat let alone a Bakra?” says a helpless looking 38-year-old Rashid Sarfaraz. “My children ask me as to when we would go to Mandi to purchase a Bakra as soon as I enter home,” adds Sarfaraz.
He is not alone in feeling the guilt of not being able to perform Qurbani despite belonging to a relatively decent neighbourhood of Karachi. Faiz Ansari, a software engineer by profession, says that despite earning over Rs100,000 per month, he will have to think twice before purchasing a sacrificial animal.
“Itni mehngai hai. Banday kay paas daal roti khanay kay paise nahe hain, aap gaye bakron ka poch rahay hain!” (People don’t have money to afford even a single meal and here you are asking about sacrificial animals), quips an agitated-looking Ansari.
“This could be the first time in my 30 years of existence that we would not be performing Qurbani this year. It saddens me but such are the desperate times we live in,” adds Ansari.
The sentiment is not limited to the buyers only. Even the sellers are feeling the heat of the hyperinflation.
“Where do we take our animals to? We spend thousands of rupees on their sustenance every year hoping to earn some profit in the Eid season. With no buyers in the market, I am afraid that I would have to incur heavy losses,” says Afzal Chachar, a seller in the Sohrab Goth Mandi.
Many like Chachar have been left wondering whether they made the right call to bring their animals to the Karachi Mandi by bearing heavy transport costs amid rising petroleum prices. “Kahen qareeb he bech ata tou shayad nuqsaan tou na hota” (Perhaps, I should have sold my animals somewhere near, at least I wouldn’t have incurred losses), adds Chachar.
The Upcut spoke to a number of buyers and sellers most of whom agreed that the business would suffer due to the hyperinflation.
With rising oil and petroleum prices and the economy in tatters, it really does make one wonder whether a large portion of the Pakistani society will refrain from offering Qurbani this year? Empirical evidence suggests so, but the mind says otherwise.