July 31, 2020
As the second-largest Islamic festival — Eid ul Adha — gets underway, chock-a-block traffic near bustling livestock markets (mandi) and hordes of giddy customers swarming hulking animals are usually a common sight in Pakistan. Touted as the festival of sacrifice, the event coincides with Hajj and commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to Allah. The main religious ritual during this festival is the qurbani, or sacrifice, of an animal — a goat, sheep, cow, buffalo, or camel — which signifies willingness to sacrifice for Allah.
But the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into this year’s festivities, which begin on Saturday in Pakistan and go until Monday. The fear of contracting the virus and government restrictions on cattle markets have kept crowds away, giving the country’s nascent online cattle platforms and virtual sacrificial services a new lease of life. Qurbani has gone digital.
Traditional qurbani, or sacrifice, involves purchasing an animal, taking care of it during the days leading up to Eid, and then sacrificing it during one of the three designated Eid days. Meat from qurbani animals should be distributed in three equal parts and shared with family, friends, and the poor — both Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Many well-to-do Muslims opt to have entire animals sacrificed in the name of charity and distribute the meat to impoverished communities or to a charity.