KOLKATA - As Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday next week, some Bangladeshi families are turning to the Web to buy their sacrificial animals, changing a centuries-old tradition.
Muslims in South Asia traditionally buy cows, goats and other animals from outdoor cattle markets for Eid al-Adha sacrifice. Throughout the month preceding the annual Muslim festival, the markets in sprawling fields attract crowds of customers.
Cattle sellers, who are mostly based in villages, say the online market has helped their business by reaching more urban customers online.
Trend started in 2006
The trend started around 2006 when WebBangladesh began marketing animals to Bangladeshi expats who could buy them online and participate in the festival by having them delivered to relatives or distributed to the poor in their home villages.
On one online vendor’s site, Amsterdam-based Bangladeshi expat Momin Ahmed wrote that online cow shops in Bangladesh helped fulfill one of his dreams.
“For 28 years, since I left Bangladesh, I could not sacrifice a cow during Eid al-Adha and I felt bad. Now I am whole-heartedly thankful to amardesheshop for solving my problem,” Ahmed said.
The founder of the Amardesheshop site, Ataur Rahman, said the practice is quickly catching on.
“Buying sacrificial animals online is still a new concept in Bangladesh. In 2009 when my group began selling cows online, we sold 76 cows. This year we have put up around 180 cows on sale and we hope to sell most of them by Eid next week,” Rahman told VOA.
“Almost all of our customers are from Dhaka until now. Next year we are aiming to sell cows also in some other cities. I am sure, online sacrificial cow business is going to boom in Bangladesh in a few years,” he said.
Rahman said that the online sale of cows has empowered sellers in the village.
There are about two dozen online portals selling mostly sacrificial cows to Muslims in Dhaka.
At amardesheshop and other portals like akhoni, bikroy and cellbazzar.com, the customers can view pictures of the cows attached to the advertisements that include the price, weight and sometimes the name and photo of the farmer who raised the animal.
Once a customer chooses a cow and makes a payment via a bank, most sites then also handle the delivery of the animal to a customer's doorstep in Dhaka.
Businessman Mahmud Hassan said he has bought cows through the services for the past two years.
“Previously I had to spend a whole day to get a sacrificial cow to my home from the nearest cattle market. In the congested and dingy market, often full of slush, searching for a suitable cow and haggling over its price was really hassle-some," Hassan said. "Then I had to carry along a special assistant from home to guard the cash from pickpockets and robbers.
“But now as I am buying cow online, I don’t have to take many troubles by visiting the cattle market physically," Hassan added. "I can also save time and now I don’t have any tension.”