As Maharashtra gears up for low-key Bakri Eid celebrations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people, including cattle rearers and farmers, who earn substantially during the festival, are staring at severe financial losses this year.
According to an estimate, nearly 5,000 people, including farmers, transporters and butchers, work in the Deonar abattoir in the city in run-up to Bakri Eid every year.
However, this year, the abattoir virtually wears a deserted look as only butchers and workers holding licences from the civic body are seen going about their day-to-day activities.
With just two weeks left for Bakri Eid, which will be celebrated on August 1, the sale and transport of cattle from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and even parts of Maharashtra have been suspended in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Around 5,000 people, including farmers and cattle sellers, are going to suffer this year. To cut losses, some have resorted to selling goats in housing societies, which is illegal," said Zameer Qureshi, a social worker from Govandi.
Each year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation earns crores during the festival, but now it will face huge losses, he claimed.
Meanwhile, general manager of Deonar abattoir, Dr Yogesh Shetye, said, "This year, buying and selling of animals is not allowed due to the pandemic and cattle also can not be transported from different parts of Maharashtra and other states."
Every year, over 2.5 lakh goats and at least 12,000 to 14,000 cattle are brought to the abattoir at the time of the festival, he said.
However, now only butchers with BMC licences are allowed to enter the premises and no elaborate arrangements are being made for the festival, Shetye added.
On Tuesday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the festival should be celebrated in a simple and if possible "symbolic" manner in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
"In the last four months (of lockdown due to coronavirus), we have celebrated festivals of all religions in a restricted manner. Similarly, the coming Bakri Eid should also be celebrated in a simple, and if possible symbolic manner by observing rules," Thackeray was quoted as saying in an official statement.
The pandemic poses a "big challenge", he had said and urged people to avoid crowding during the festival.
Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had suggested that the ritual of `qurbani' (sacrifice of animal) be conducted "online" if possible, considering the imperatives of lockdown and containment zone restrictions.