So here comes the 'big' Eid
Eid-ul-Azha is around the corner. I am sure it is not going to be different from the previous years. In that, that there were animal haats within and beyond the city limits. That there was a predictable rush for sacrificial animals, that animals were slaughtered wherever people deemed it fit to slaughter them, that this misdeed left the city in stench, that there were altercations and an occasional fight for the meat given to the poor from the prosperous house holds. All these were there but there were things different from the run of the mill that also happened. I understand that cows this year were limited in supply because of the anthrax scare and, therefore, the prices were going to be high. Indeed very high for the middle class Bangladeshis to shy away from the age-old custom. Therefore, lesser number of cows would be slaughtered. Also, strange though it may seem, people have started questioning the intent with which animals are slaughtered. To some, at least in some cases, the whole exercise seemed ostentatious and unnecessary. Hence the suffering because of the indiscretion centring on the sacrifice of animal might be less unbridled.
In one of the Eids in the recent past a banner I came across in the important intersections of the city made my day. Adapted from Bangla it read: “Do not kill the animals of the wild. Kill the Animals within you”. Isn't this fascinating? I think this is the most profound appeal I have come across in a long time. ‘Kill the animal’ within you. I think this most extraordinary slogan alone, if adhered to, could make life so much more meaningful and blissful for all of us. What is more, it gives me a tremendous sense of hope about the future of Bangladesh. A Bangladesh where we have become used to talking about all the negative things in our daily conversation, where despondency is our every day companion, we do not find any reason to come back to if we can barely make a living abroad.
Earlier in the morning and before I saw the banner I had met an aunt who lived in the ground floor of a respectable residential apartment complex. That year, for some strange reason, the occupants of the apartments had decided to slaughter the animals within the compound and in the car park of the complex, something that has become a common phenomenon since. And by chance the place they selected for this was by the side of my aunt's bedroom window. She was very disturbed by the sight of animal after animal being slaughtered, skinned, cut and chopped. What disturbed her most was that a band of very young boys were sitting and watching all these from the adjacent wall. Felling of each animal resulted in a gleeful outburst from them. The comment of my old aunt was that “I could literally see a band of young thugs being inducted into the trade of indulging in the violence that has become endemic to our society of late.” Her comment made me appreciate the banner even more.
But the question remains, and it may well be asked by the devout Muslims, that should we abstain from practising gestures of sacrifice during the celebration of Eid-ul-Azha? I would hazard an answer to this question through a counter question. Let us put our hands on our hearts and ask how many of us sacrifice animals during the Eid with a spirit of sacrifice? Don't we indulge in a competition of buying the most expensive animal with an attitude of exhibitionism and of obtrusiveness? Don't our eyes light up at the prospect of savouring the taste of the choice cuts of the animals we have so eagerly brought home from the haat to sacrifice in the name of God? Does that animal ever become our most loved and most prized possession, the sacrifice of which should meet the spirit of qurbani? Do we genuinely care about the fate of the teeming millions of destitute that comprise the majority of our population and can't even afford a square meal a day?
In fact in our present day Bangladesh beasts are not as beastly as the human beings. Isn't that the beast within most of us that we should sacrifice first on such occasions?
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