City Life – Goats in Winter, Old Delhi
The winter couture.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
When Old Delhi’s ubiquitous goats start showing up with marigold malas around their neck, one knows one is nearing Eid ul Zuha, the festival in which the animals are offered as qurbani, or sacrifice. On the other hand, the unmistakable sign of winter in this part of the city is when the area’s goats begin to show up in torn second-hand jackets, sweaters, jumpers, cardigans, blankets, and sometimes even carefully sewn gunnysacks. Very often, the two sleeves of a cardigan or sweater serves to cover up their hind legs. Once this reporter spotted celebrated photographer Steve McCurry shooting a Delhi goat clad in such a winter dress, though the place was a jhuggi behind Meharchand Market, which is outside the Walled City’s walls.
Old Delhi dwellers also keep cats and pigeons but those creatures go without any warm wear. Only the goats seem to enjoy the special treatment.
“Goats are very sensitive to the cold,” explains Sabeeha Jhinjhianvi, a homemaker whose house is tucked at one end of Pahari Rajaan, a street also known as Gosht Waali Pahari—hill of the meat—because it is lined with meat shops. “Goats particularly feel the cold in the stomach,” she says, adding, “they also suffer from cold-related problems such as the running nose, just like us.”
Wrapping up animals in warm clothing is not unique to the Old Quarter. The streets and gardens of the megapolis teem with community dogs in similar woollens. Sometimes thoughtful citizens unroll gunnysacks along the paves for the stray animals to use them as their bed in cold nights.
While the Purani Dilli goats are fed with gular leaves throughout the year, their diet undergoes a change during the winters, when they are given “warm food” such as longpatti leaves, channa, peepal leaves, and makkai dane. A goat lover in Mohalla Qabristan notes that goats tend to suffer from toothaches during the winter. “They tell that by refusing to eat.” Then their teeth are rubbed with a mixture of salt and mustard oil.
By February, goats start to show up in their natural state.