Eid-ul-Azha is one of the most significant Muslim festivals celebrated worldwide by Muslim communities. It is a traditional practice for Muslims to slaughter animals like sheep, goats, buffalo, cattle and camels on a particular sacred day to commemorate the mercy of Allah, sparing Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) from having to sacrifice his son Ismael. Muslims around the globe sacrifice livestock on Eid-ul-Azha. This observance culminates in the Hajj, and every financially able Muslim sacrifices domestic ruminants in honour of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) and as a demonstration of obedience to Allah.
Sacrificing cattle remains the main component of this festival, but it also generates huge economic activities, creating employment that may be casual, temporary or permanent depending on the areas of operations. It is mainly the rural Bangladeshis who rear these sacrificial animals and earn a major chunk of the spending. The size of the Eid-ul-Azha economy is believed to be approximately between Tk 40,000 and 50,000 crore, out of which more than Tk 30,000 crore comes from cattle sales, as people have been spending increasingly as per their rising purchasing power. This year around 1 crore 19 lakh animals were supplied in the haats throughout the nation. These haats are mainly situated on the roadsides for strategic display of livestock. The stalls are usually opened near the urban or peri-urban areas. In the past years, the majority of these animals were nurtured by individual villagers, however, in recent times commercial beef cattle farms targeting the Eid festival have gained prominence in Bangladesh. The country’s cattle ranches experienced a significant increase in supply of cows when the supply of cows from India dried up following stringent moves led by the Indian government in recent years.
Typically, Eid-ul-Azha is the most productive time of the year for the leather industry as the majority of the annual yield of good quality raw hides and skins are collected during this period. The leather industry in Bangladesh is the third largest industry contributing to export growth and has huge potential to expand in the future. During this period, there is a steep rise in supply of raw hides within a short period of time when a substantial number of animals are sacrificed. In fact more than 75 per cent of high quality hides are being collected during this season as Bangladesh has sizeable livestock to support the booming industry. The cow hides account for 56 per cent of leather production whereas goat skins and buffalo hides make up 30 and 14 per cent respectively. However, the assemblage of rawhides have dropped by approximately 35 to 40 per cent during this year since the number of animals sacrificed diminished due to the ongoing corona crisis. According to tannery owners and rawhide traders, they collected about one crore rawhide of sacrificial animals including cow, buffalo, goats during this Eid-ul-Azha. As it has been encouraged in Islam, the money which is generated from the sales of animal skins is often donated to the Madrasas as charity for the upbringing and education of orphans and poor children and hence giving the underprivileged students an opportunity to study.
It cannot be denied that the festival’s economy becomes gloomy to the victims of Covid-19. The presence of the earlier two waves were not experienced in the countryside, however, the Delta variant’s effect on the villages is already on the rise. On the occasion of Qorbani, the likelihood of revamping Bangladesh’s economy is now in despondency. In the last 16 months Bangladesh missed dozens of festivals to regain the momentum of its economy. It was highly speculated that the economic climate will continue to evolve in the next few phases on the heels of last year's exacerbated situation.
Safaq Zilan, student of SFX Greenherald International School