November 6, 2011 by k. liz
We interrupt this generally educational blog to wish you a happy Kurban Bayram, Tabaski, Eid al-Adha!
Today is one of the biggest holidays in Muslim countries. It is a day of sacrifice to commemorate the story from the Koran of when Abraham prepared to offer Ishmael, but Allah provided a ram in his place. Today, many Muslims are sacrificing their own sheep or cow, and most people will give away a good portion of the meat to those who are less fortunate. Some will send them to other countries, some to neighbors or poor people in their city.
As I mentioned, the holiday stems from the story in the Koran, but over the years it has developed into a week long holiday with celebrations, traditions, and family gatherings. For the past week make-shift animal farms have been going up around the city so that people could purchase their sheep or cows. On Friday night, we stopped and talked with one of the sheep sellers and saw all of his sheep. Just at his shop he had 500 sheep for sale! Today, we wandered around the surrounding streets and saw several dead cows, people carting the body parts in wheelbarrows back to their house, a few still living animals, and we actually saw an entire butchering taking place. It was quite an experience! All of the car washes have been turned into butchering grounds, and even some constructions sites. The one we watched took place on a public corner outside of an apartment building.
So, this is the central part of this holiday that takes place across most of the Muslim world. But it is coupled with presentations, dances, a lot of candy, family gatherings, and that general holiday feel that you sense when you walk outside and greet people on the street. We have three days off of school this week, and last year we were given a gift of meat following the holiday. Most stores are having bayram specials, and a lot of people are traveling to be with family in different cities. In all, this is an exciting time for Muslims, like any religious holiday is for any religion. We have really enjoyed being here and getting to see the traditions in person, and learn a little bit more about something that we hadn’t encountered before in America.
We are still learning a lot, and we are thankful for the opportunities to experience a new culture. Even though we are living in Turkey with our Muslim friends and different holidays, I cannot separate the things I am learning and experiencing with things that I have known or experienced before in different ways. This holiday is just like that . . . click here to read my more personal story of Kurban Bayram.