At the cow wash: Pakistanis scrub Aidiladha animals at car cleaners

KARACHI (AFP) – In the run-up to the Muslim festival of Aidiladha, Karachi car-wash owner Sheikh Sagheer sees much of the traffic at his business switch from four wheels to four legs.

Locals bring him their cattle, sheep and goats for a thorough scrub down ahead of the animals’ sacrifice during the three-day religious holiday, which begins today in Pakistan.

Sagheer, 42, said the cow wash started when he was spotted cleaning his sacrificial animal ahead of Aidiladha after opening his business a few years ago.

“The people who saw me washing the animal came to me with their own… that’s how this trend started,” Sagheer told AFP.

Many of the animals come from a huge market on the outskirts of Karachi – reputed to be the largest Aidiladha cattle bazaar in Asia – that is packed with goats, cows, bullocks, sheep and camels. The creatures are often dirty, dusty and speckled with dung after being transported then packed together at the market.

Sagheer charges just PKR100 (about USD60 cents) for a wash – which includes a soak with a pressure hose, a lather with suds, a scrub and a rinse.

“The charge is 100 rupees, which is nothing,” said Mohammad Uzair, who brought in a large grey cow for a wash.

Across Pakistan, between eight and 10 million animals are sacrificed over Aidiladha, according to the Pakistan Tanners Association. Sagheer said cleanliness is especially important because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I make it a point to sanitise the animal with disinfectants,” he said.

Sheikh Sagheer (L) washes a cow for a customer at his car service station ahead of the Aidiladha in the Pakistan’s port city of Karachi. PHOTO: AFP