LAHORE - With eight days left to mark Eid-ul-Azha, the buying of sacrificial animals through the Internet has started picking momentum. The trend of purchasing animals online is facilitating those people who do not have time to make a trip to the market to select the sacrificial animal of their choice. Customers can find the animals of their choice, order it online and get it delivered right at their doorstep. The prices of sacrificial animals on the Internet are, however, quite exorbitant. They are observed to be 20 percent higher than the open market. However, the higher prices have not discouraged potential buyers. People say that they are paying the price of comfort, avoiding hardships like time consumption, transportation problems, bargaining hassles and most of all, visiting the cattle market in person. They also hoped that prices would come down near Eid. They said the City Government should promote this type of selling of sacrificial animals to facilitate the people. A number of websites have come into action offering a variety of sacrificial animals including goats, cows and camels on Internet. These online services provide photo, video, voice and other descriptions including types and prices of the goats and other sacrificial animals on the Internet, which assists customers in making their choice. They sell the sacrificial animals by weight. They accept payments from around the world through credit cards, terming it as the most convenient method for distant payments. To ensure the timely delivery of payment, they ask customers to pay their credit card bills in full within the due date to avert any interest on their payment. The websites also offer their customers the guarantee of 100 percent satisfaction with the healthiest animals delivered right at the doorstep. Online bookings of qurbanis (sacrifices) for Eid-ul-Azha has also started with the credit cards being used to facilitate the transaction. Among others, Islamabad-based ebakra.com and the Karachi-based qurbanionline.com offer customers the option of picking and choosing the sheep for sacrifices. While surfing such websites, the animals can be chosen from pictures and prices displayed and ordered by e-mail for free home delivery. "If the customer wishes, he can even visit the sheep farm where they are bred and raised. The prices, though a little bit higher than the market, still remain within the reach of most customers," a website claims. The websites have also issued a religious decree (fatwa) against the purchase through credit cards. "The best way to avail the services of a credit card company is to have a direct debit arrangement with the issuer of the card. It means that as soon as an amount is due on the card holder, the issuer receives it by debiting the card holder's account. This is to eliminate any chance of accrual of interest on the payable amount in case of a delay in payment. However, if direct debit arrangement is not possible for any reason, purchasing through a credit card is permissible only if the card holder is fully confident of being able to pay the bill within the due date," the website clarified. These websites are managed by different chains of big stores as well as individuals. They claim that buying a sacrificial animal on the Internet was hassle free and without any bargaining because of competitive prices. They said this also saved people valuable time. Some websites are also advertising the donation of the sacrificial animals' skins. They also offer services to oversees Pakistanis, promising to sacrifice an animal here in Pakistan, distribute its meat among the poor and send pictures of the alive and sacrificed animal to the customers abroad. The idea of purchasing sacrificial animals through Internet was introduced in the country some two or three years back. Zahid Hussain, a resident of Gulberg said that on last Eid-ul-Azha, he purchased a goat through one such website and this year he was planning to do the same. It saves him time, he said, otherwise he would have to go to "some stinking cattle market" in this heavy traffic of the provincial metropolis and then would have to bargain a lot with the sellers and then look for a van to get the animal home. "The internet has made it very easy now," he said. Shahzad, a resident of Cantonment area, said all such websites were showing the pictures of the animals as well as their bio-data like their weight, age and teeth and once the animal was purchased, the websites sent the customers the same so that the order could be cancelled in case of a change in the animal's bio-data.