Mumbai is a city that lives life inside out. In this crowded city, life spills out onto the streets and everything private becomes public, especially during festivals. While the annual Ganesh Chaturthi is the one most celebrated on the city’s streets — marked by 10 days of festivities — many other festivals are celebrated with equal passion. Eidul Azha is one of those festivals.
This year, Eid was celebrated on the 25th of September in Mumbai, coinciding with Ganesh Chaturthi. Sacrificial goats and sheep shared the streets with idols of the elephant-headed Ganesh and gossip columns in newspapers reported the prices and special qualities of the goats that Bollywood stars had bought. Banners with pictures of politicians and local leaders with goats popped up around the city, along with their Eid greetings. Goats trailed children in the narrow streets of the city, following them as they scampered off to playgrounds. Those who don’t celebrate Eid have the option of feasting at a friend’s house or at restaurants. For example, a new and popular eatery had a nose-to-tail goat dinner to mark Eid this year.
Every year, the city’s administration sets up and runs the Bakra Mandi in Mumbai’s Deonar suburb. The mandi draws goatherds, shepherds and traders from all over the home state of Maharashtra and parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and even as far as the Kashmir valley. Goats reared by locals in their homes and workplaces are also brought here for sale. Eid is the only time of the year when shepherds and traders from the arid states up north make the trek down to Mumbai because of the higher price their produce fetches at this time of the year.
Deonar is where the city’s abattoir is located. When it was opened in the early 1970s, it was the largest in the country. The market — one of the largest goat markets in India — is set up within the abattoir complex. In one corner of the same market, buffaloes were also sold for sacrifice. It is currently illegal to sell or consume beef in the state of Maharashtra, and the Bombay High Court rejected a petition to relax the beef ban during the three days of Eid. On the 24th of September at 12am, or the beginning of the day, the headcount of the goats inside the market was 206,681.
Gopal MS is a Mumbai-based photographer.
He tweets @SloganMurugan and can be found on Instagram @mumbaipaused
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 4th, 2015.