Sheikh Sagheer showers foam on a cow before washing it at his car service station in Karachi, Pakistan. AFP
The days leading up to the Muslim feast of Eid Al Adha are busy for Uzair Dawood, the owner of a motorcycle wash in Pakistan's southern city of Karachi — not for fixing vehicles, but washing cattle.
Eid Al Adha falls on Saturday in the South Asian nation, and like Muslims across the world, Pakistanis purchase cattle to sacrifice on the occasion as a religious obligation.
A woman takes a photograph of her family members among camels at a cattle market in Karachi. AFP
"It is very busy day just a day before Eid and we don't have time for a bike wash," Dawood told Reuters as he busied himself lathering a cow with soap before using the pressure hose to clean the animal.
Sacrificial animals are treated with deference by Pakistanis, who often decorate the cattle they have purchased with colourful garlands.
A worker washes a motorbike while a bull waits inside for a spray wash at an automobile service station in Karachi. Reuters
"We bring these animals here because we want them neat and clean because it is an animal for sacrifice and we are happy to see it happy," one customer, Osama Haider Ali, told Reuters.
Another 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.
Sagheer, 42, said the cow wash started when he was spotted cleaning his sacrificial animal ahead of Eid 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 the media.
A worker uses a pressure hose on a bull during a spray wash at an automobile service station in Karachi. Reuters
Many of the animals come from a huge market on the outskirts of Karachi -- reputed to be the largest Eid 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 100 rupees (about 60 cents) for a wash -- which includes a soak with a pressure hose, a lather with suds, a scrub and a rinse.
Dawood's shop is located in a densely populated district of Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and is one of many vehicle service stations with customers queuing up with animals.
"Servicing" cattle is not as easy as motorcycles, says Dawood who charges 200 to 300 Pakistani rupees ($1.20 to $1.80) per wash, for which he uses shampoo, soap, brush and a hose.
"A vehicles remains in its place ... but washing an animal is risky. It can hit you, it can kick you. It can break the rope."
The coronavirus has cast a shadow over this Eid, with fears of another spike in infections prompting authorities to warn people to minimise movement, avoid cattle markets and refrain from public gatherings to witness the slaughter of sacrificial animals.
Sheikh Sagheer washes a cow for a customer at his car service station ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid Al Adha. AFP
"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 Eid Al Adha, according to the Pakistan Tanners Association.
Sagheer says cleanliness is especially important because of the Coronavirus pandemic. "I make it a point to sanitise the animal with disinfectants," he said.
Agence France-Presse / Reuters
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