As Eid-ul-Azha, a festival observed by sacrificing animals by Muslims, draws near, Kashmir sees exotic animals to be part of sacrificial animals' list this year. Topping the list are camels and Rs 2-lakh Afghan breed goats. These exotic animals will be part of more than two lakh sheep and goats to be sacrificed on the occasion in Srinagar alone.
In the outskirts of Srinagar, Parimpora mandi, where grocery imports from outside the state come is abuzz with hundreds of sheep up for sale. But the eye catcher among the flock are tall camels, a desert animal barely known to Kashmiri cuisine.
"Camel cannot survive in Kashmir. So this flock of three dozen has come from Rajasthan. It was tedious to get the desert animal to Kashmir," said Rehman Khan, a stocker of sacrificial animal.
From just two camels in 2010, dozens are heading to Kashmir in 2011 on the occasion of Eid. "My flock of camels exhausted within days," said Khan, who see potential for camel sale in Kashmir. Camels sell for more than Rs 30,000 per animal. More than 100 camels have made their way into Jammu and Kashmir in 2011.
Experts see religious reasons to sudden interest in exotic animal camel in Kashmir. "Prophet Muhammad preferred to sacrifice camel on the occasion. So there is a religious angle to sudden interest in camels in Kashmir. In Saudi Arabia, camel top the list of sacrificial animals," said Kashmir animal husbandry department director Farooq Ahmed Kaloo.
In downtown Srinagar, the attraction is not a camel but an Afghan breed goat. "We sell rare Afghan-Arab breeds of goat. All goats are above Rs 1 lakh," said Irfan Ahmad, a seller, who lives at Nawab Bazar.
More than two lakh sacrificial animals, according to animal husbandry department, will be consumed by the population of Srinagar city only.
Eid-ul-Azha is observed to mark prophet Abraham's decision to sacrifice his son Ismail at directions of the God. But the God, according to Muslims, places sheep at the altar for sacrifice.