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Eid-ul-Adah: Kashmir markets subdued though enthusiasm is high pitch

A woman displaying her hena-dyed hands in Srinagar marketplace (Pics by Basit Zargar)

Srinagar

Even when markets had more than usual presence of shoppers in J&K’s Srinagar and other cities and towns of Kashmir on the eve of the holiest Muslim festival of Eid-ul-Azha on Saturday, the traditional high-pitch buying and selling has not been witnessed this time.

The sacrificial animal markets in the Eidgah area of Srinagar and other places also witnessed low-key business activity.

The most sought-after items were bakery, poultry, vegetables, garment, toy, and firecracker shops as people were seen buying things for the ensuing Eid festival that falls on Monday.

A woman buying artificial jewelry in Srinagar

Traffic movement was more than usual on streets and highways of Srinagar and other districts of the Valley as locals came out to buy essentials of life in big or small ways to celebrate the holy festival.

Muslims throughout the World offer animal sacrifices on Eid-ul-Azha to commemorate the historical sacrifice made by Prophet Abrahim. He offered his son for sacrifice to please Allah and while he was moving the blade blindfolded on his son, Ismail’s throat, a Ram from heaven replaced Ismail under the father’s knife. Abrahim celebrated the acceptance of the great sacrifice and Allah’s intervention to save his son, Ismail.

It is as thanksgiving of that historical movement that Muslims offer animal sacrifices on Eid-ul-Azha, which also marks the end of the holy Hajj pilgrimage each year.

There was a lot of haggling going on between the buyers and the sellers in the animal markets of the Valley with many sellers saying they were not even getting the returns for their effort to tender their flocks of goats and sheep.

Mushtaq Bijard, an animal trader said he had got the flock of goats and sheep from Rajouri district of Jammu division and here he was struggling to sell his flock.

A street in Srinagar on Eid eve

“I am afraid that I might have to take most of the flock back to Rajouri for want of getting enough buyers. That would incur further expenditure because the buyers are not offering the right price that would meet my requirement”, Bijard said.

Despite all the low-key market activity on Saturday, the bakery shops were still doing brisk business while those selling electronic gadgets, mobile phones, fridges, TVs and washing machines were complaining of a lack of buyers despite having announced discounts on Eid shopping.

Locals say they can’t avoid buying bakery items like cakes, pastries and cookies on Eid eve since children always look forward to these edibles around the Eid festival.

“I cannot afford to offer animal sacrifice this year, but my son likes the cream cake that has to be on the table first thing on Eid day. Thus buying a bakery is no indication of lavish spending around this Eid festival,” said Asif, a senior local journalist.

Women shopping in Srinagar on Eid eve

Kashmir has had a record number of tourists in the first quarter of 2024. The tourists spend money in hotels, on taxis, for Shikara rides on the local lakes, and buying handicraft items like shawls, papier-mache items, and even carpets in some measure. Why the money is not circulating to the ground despite such unprecedented tour and travel trade is perplexing many.

Local economists argue that the number of people directly or indirectly dependent on the tourist industry is not even 30 percent of the Valley’s total population.

“The biggest industry in Kashmir is horticulture and our apple trade has not been doing very well for the last few years because of bad and unexpected weather resulting in hailstorms and also because the markets are getting apples from other places like Iran and Afghanistan that puts our produce to severe competitive prices and resultant losses due to cold storage expenses, transport, etc.,” said Manzoor. Ahmad, an orchardist from Pulwama district.

Authorities deputed market-checking squads to ensure that unscrupulous traders did not overcharge the consumers.

Special Eid prayers will be offered at different mosques and Eidgahs on Monday. Authorities have arranged sanitation, security and healthcare for bigger mosques and Eidgahs in the Valley and the Jammu division.

Whether Kashmiris indulge in Eid eve shopping in small or large numbers, the festivities of the holy occasion are already in the air.

ALSO READEid-ul-Adha: Hanjura’s IRRT to scale up meat distributing among Kashmir’s poor

The prevailing peace in the Valley has made Eid festivities possible and Kashmiris have learned to appreciate the prevailing calm after having seen the worst kind of violence during the last three decades.

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