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Monday 10 December 2018

Karachi's rooftop cattle get a crane lift to the ground

A sacrificial cow is lowered from a rooftop by crane, ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival in Karachi, Pakistan, August 12, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/File photo
A sacrificial cow is lowered from a rooftop by crane, ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival in Karachi, Pakistan, August 12, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/File photo

Shahab Shahabuddin

Residents of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, watched as cattle were lowered by crane from the top of a four-storey home ahead of the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha.

Unlike other Muslims who buy animals for slaughter a few days before the sacrificial holiday, Syed Ejaz Ahmad, 55, said raising his own calves was more economical.

Ahmad started raising calves in a rooftop shed about 15 years ago. As they grew in size, it became difficult to lead oxen down the narrow staircase of his house.

His solution? Call a crane service.

The operation has become an annual event in Ahmad's neighbourhood of Nazimabad, where a crowd cheered as it watched the spectacle unfold.

"I was a bit scared when I did this for the first time," crane operator Mohammad Hanif said this week as he swung Ahmad's seven cows and oxen to the ground.

Residents watch as a sacrificial cow is lowered from a rooftop by crane, ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival in Karachi, Pakistan, August 12, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/File Photo
Residents watch as a sacrificial cow is lowered from a rooftop by crane, ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival in Karachi, Pakistan, August 12, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/File Photo

"When the animal's feet struggled, I thought it might break the straps and fall on the crowd of people, particularly children," he said. "Now I have a lot of practice doing it."

Eid al-Adha is one of the two most important festivals of the Islamic calendar and commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son on God's command.

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Muslims mark the holiday by slaughtering animals such as sheep and goats and sharing the meat with family and friends, as well as donating it to the poor.

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