Srinagar: Amid incessant rain and cold weather, days ahead of Eid-ul-Zuha Monday, Kashmiris, forgetting all their other problems, are thronging the markets to buy sacrificial animals, clothes, food and firecrackers as if there is no tomorrow.
Most roads in this capital city are blocked because of traffic jams as shoppers come out of their homes early. Pavement sellers have spread their merchandise on the pedestrian malls, adding to the confusion on city roads.
Woollens, poultry, mutton, bread and clothes are the most sought after items in the city. Shopkeepers are exploiting the festive mood of the buyers. Children buy firecrackers to celebrate Eid.
The city`s main sacrificial animal market at the old city Eidgah grounds is packed with herds of sheep and goats where buyers haggle with sellers. The festival is also known as Bakr-Eid.
"These people are overcharging us and there is no official control on the rates of the animals. I have paid Rs.10,000 for two rams, but I am sure during normal times these would not cost more than Rs.7,000," said Abdul Majid, 45, a buyer at the market.
People who have been visiting the market said a ram was sold for over Rs.1 lakh Thursday at the market!
"It is rather embarrassing to haggle when one is buying an animal to be offered for sacrifice. Yes, some sellers are selling their animals as per body weight, charging Rs.180 per kg live weight of the animal.
"But most of the selling takes place without weighing," said Irfan Ahmad, 54, a buyer at the market.
This year some animal sellers have also brought in camels from outside the valley to be sold as sacrificial animals.
Muslims throughout the world offer animal sacrifices to commemorate the historic sacrifice offered by prophet Abrahim when Allah asked him to sacrifice his son Ismail. Legend has it that while Abrahim blindfolded himself and moved the knife on his son`s throat, Allah ordered a ram from heaven to replace Ismail.
Commemorating the happiness that followed in Abrahim`s family as Allah had saved Ismail and also accepted Abrahim`s sacrifice, Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-Zuha.
Although the administration here says squads of officials have been moved out to ensure that prices remain under control, the hectic buying by locals is encouraging unscrupulous traders.