High pitched Eid-eve shopping continued in this Jammu and Kashmir summer capital Friday with markets overcrowded with enthusiastic purchasers.
Dozens of sacrificial animal markets have come up the city, with the Eidgah ground in the old city being the largest.
Hundreds of buyers thronged the Eidgah ground as sellers dictated the prices of sheep and goats without any control over them.
"Prices at the animal market are completely under the control of the sellers, who are charging exorbitant rates", said Showkat Ahmad Sofi, 45, a buyer.
Muhammad Ishaq, 54, an animal seller, said the livestock is high-priced at the source as the shepherds have jacked up their rates.
Still, sales were brisk despite the animals costing anything between Rs.6,000 and Rs.15,000.
Eid-ul-Azha, being celebrated here Saturday, commemorates the sacrifice made by Prophet Ibrahim, who was prepared to sacrifice his son Ismail to please Allah. As the father blindfolded himself and moved the blade on the son’s throat, Allah ordered a ram from heaven to replace Ismail. Festivities followed at Ibrahim home as Allah had accepted his sacrifice, but spared his son.
Animal sacrifice is, therefore, the most significant custom observed by devotees on Eid-ul-Azha.
Apart from sheep and goats, the sought after items included cooking gas cylinders, kerosene, bakery items, hosiery and firecrackers.
Makeshift bakery shops have come up throughout the city, shrinking the already choked traffic arteries. Long traffic jams were witnessed in the city as police had a tough time dealing with the mess.
Black marketing of essential items, including cooking gas cylinders, kerosene and foodstuff seems to have defied all the administrative attempts to keep the prices under control.
“We have sent out special checking squads throughout the city and a number of traders who were overcharging have been booked," said an official of the district administration, but people everywhere complained that such squads were conspicuous by their absence.
“I did not see any officials going around to check the prices as unscrupulous traders have a field day,” said Raashid, a photojournalist who went round the city taking pictures at busy markets.
Children once again were in the forefront of the shopping spree, driving their parents crazy.
“My son has brought me to Srinagar from my village. He wants to buy firecrackers from a particular shop in the city. I remained stuck in a traffic jam for two hours,” said Nazir Ahmad Mir, 42, a resident of Benhama village in north Kashmir's Ganderbal district.
Well, in a land where over 22 years of death and destructions have snatched the smiles off many faces, a little thrill and overindulgence is always welcome. What better opportunity to spend more to bring cheer to one’s family than Eid-ul-Azha?
(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)