Imprints of Bollywood can be seen at Bhopal's bakra (goat) market at Jehangirabad, which has come alive in the run-up to Eid-ul-Zuha that falls on Monday.
There are goats called Shah Rukh Khan, Salman and Sher Khan (Pran's name from the iconic Zanjeer). Ask the owners for reasons behind naming their goats after Bollywood icons, you get interesting replies. "Shah Rukh's career is almost over and this bakra's career will be over too on Eid," says Azim Khan, a local dealer about one of his goats from the famed jamnapaari breed.
"This is not a bakra but a sher (tiger). Look at his aggression, even at this advanced age," says Samad, who is trying very hard to market his livestock to potential buyers.
With only two days to go before Eid, the market is lively. Azim Khan, however, says while there have been buyers like previous years, business is looking down. "The prices of goats have not increased in proportion to the rearing costs," he says.
The jamnapaari breed, marked by a good built and exceptionally long ears, fetches the highest prices. A jamnapaari goat weighing almost 70kg was sold for Rs 50,000 on Friday. However, the long-haired Rajasthani breeds also fetch better prices than desi (local) breeds that are under Rs 10,000.
"Prices increase by almost 30-40% in the run-up to Eid. After Eid, if the bakras remain unsold, they would fetch much lesser prices," says Wahid Ali, who has come from Jhansi to sell his jamnapaari goats.
"Earlier, people purchased the bakras many days in advance and kept them at home. Now with changing lifestyles and people living in apartments, they buy the bakras only a day before Eid for qurbani," he says.
Prices start from Rs 6,000 per animal with no upper limit. Once in a while, a goat with an interesting design — preferably a religious motif — lands up at the market and commands a stupendous price.
Competition exists in the bakra market too and sellers use marketing tools to push the sales. Some dealers deck up the sold goat with ribbons, while handing it over to the new owner — similar to a new sold car.
A controversy erupted in Bhopal some weeks ago when PETA activists tried to ask people not to sacrifice animals on Eid.
"Sacrifice is a part of the religious tradition. Maybe if people had talked about it earlier, it could have made a difference. Not anymore, we have come a long way since then," says SM Siddique, an engineer, who had just purchased a white goat that was decked up with ribbons.