Festival of Sacrifice

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39 Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Muslim world will start to celebrate the Eid al-Adha, ‘Festival of Sacrifice’ this Tuesday, June 27. In Islamic tradition, this historic event started when Prophet Abraham was ordered to prepare his son Ismael as a sacrifice, an order which Abraham and his son unquestioningly obeyed. But Ismael’s life was spared and ransomed by a ram.

The offering of the sacrifice has become an annual celebration to commemorate the occasion and thank God for His favors.

Millions of sheep, goats and calves will be sacrificed this Wednesday, 28 June, during the Festival of Sacrifice. The Festival of Sacrifice falls on the 10th day of the last month of the lunar calendar. This festival means recurring happiness, days of peace and thanksgiving days of forgiveness and moral victory, days of good harvest and remarkable achievements and days of festive remembrance.

This time of the year is also when Muslims go to Mecca and other holy sites in Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage known as the Hajj.

The climax of the Hajj is marked by offering a sacrifice to celebrate completing this devotional course and feeding the poor so they may feel the universal joy of the festival.

The duty isn’t taken by pilgrims only, but by all Muslims in every corner of the globe. The sacrifice is only a symbol. It is not the meat or blood that’s intended to please God, but the expression of thankfulness and the affirmation of faith.

The festival of sacrifice is called Kurban Bayrami (cour-bahn by-rahm-eh) in Turkish. This year it starts at noon on Tuesday, 27 June, and lasts four-and-a-half days. The Turkish government has added Monday, 26 June and Tuesday morning to the holiday. Thus, the holiday has become a nine-day-holiday, adding the weekends at the beginning and end.

The lunar calendar determines the religious dates. Lunar calendar is 10 to 11 days shorter than solar calendar. That’s why the festivals are observed 10 to 11 days earlier every year.

As mentioned above, the most notable event of this holiday is sacrificing an animal to Allah. In Turkey, sheep are usually sacrificed.

The sacrificed animal should be at least one year old and healthy. While wealthy people can sacrifice more than one animal, up to seven people can get together to sacrifice a cow.

Although city officials designate certain areas and state the violators would be fined, sheep are sacrificed everywhere; in the garden, driveway, back yards, streets and even on balconies. This is especially true on the first day of the festival, Wednesday. You can also see animals sacrificed on the second and third days, Thursday and Friday.

On the first day, everyone wakes up early to make their final preparations. Male family members go to mosque to perform the special festival prayer, bayram Namazi, with the men of the community.

The actual sacrifice begins after the men return from the mosque. The head of the family is expected to perform the sacrifice, but a butcher can be authorized by the head of the family to do the butchering.

The animal is given water and salt, its eyes are wrapped with a clean rag and turned to face Mecca, and then the head of the family recites some verses from Quran, the holy book of Muslims, during the sacrifice.

The meat is divided into three portions. One is given to poor and needy, one to the neighbors and friends and the third is kept for the household.

After the sacrifice is complete, everybody dresses in their finest clothes and visits friends, neighbors and other family members. Those bayram visits are kept very short Phone calls are made and SMS messages are sent to those who cannot be visited.

Maids, gardeners, Apartment doormen (kapicis) and garbage collectors are given tips during this festival.