Kurban Bayrami

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
About 3,5 million Moslems have started to flock from all over the world to Mecca to perform the pilgrimage called Hajj, which is the fifth pillar of Islam.

Hajj is obligatory at least once in a lifetime for every Moslem, male or female, in fairly good health, and is financially capable and secure. In fulfilling this service, Moslems express their devotion to Allah. The pilgrimage is an annual event and atended by Moslems from all over the world. They meet in one place, Mecca, and all are dressed in similar uniforms. There is no discrimination or preference between them; all are Allah's creations.

Meanwhile, the Moslem world is getting prepared to celebrate Eedu-l-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice, which falls on the 10th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar.

Eed (short for Eedu-l-Adha) means recurring happiness or festivity, a day of peace and thanksgiving, a day of forgiveness and moral victory, a day of good harvest and remarkable achievements, and a day of festive remembrance.

The climax of Hajj is marked by offering a sacrifice, an obligation in the way of God, to celebrate the completition of this devotional course and feed the poor so that they may feel the universal joy of the festival.

This duty, sacrifying an animal to God, is not only undertaken by pilgrims but by all able Moslems in every corner of the globe. The sacrifice is only a symbol, it's not the meat or blood that pleases God. It's the expression of thankfulness to Him and the affirmation of faith in Him.

According to Moslems, this event started with the prophet Abraham when he was ordered to offer his son, Ismael, in sacrifice, an order which Abraham and his son were ready to obey unquestioningly.

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.

The festival of sacrifice is called Kurban Bayrami in Turkish. This years it starts at noon on Saturday, December 30 and lasts 4 ½ days. Religious dates are determined by the lunar calendar. Therefore, festivals are observed 10 to 11 days earlier every year. This year the festival falls right in the middle of the week.

On the first day of the festival, Dec 31, thousands of sheep, goats and calves will be slaughtered by the Turkish citizens celebrating Kurban Bayrami.

The sacrificed animal should be at least one year old and healthy. You can see sheep sacrificed in all kinds of places: the garden, driveway, back yard, streets and even on balconies. This is especially true during the first day of the festival. You can also see animals sacrificed on the second and third day of the festival.

The government put a ban on killing the animals in public and unhealthy environments. Almost every city designates a central location with professional butchers to conduct the butchering for the beleivers, but still many people follows the traditional way and kill their animal everywhere.

On the festival's first day, all family members wake up early to make their final preparations. Male members go to mosque to perform the special Bayram Namazi (sacrifice festival prayer.) 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 also be used to perform the ritual on behalf.

The animal is given water and salt, its eyes are wrapped with a clean rag, and it's turned to face Mecca. Verses are recited from the Koran, the holy book of Islam, and then the animal's throat is cut.

The meat is then divided into three portions--one is given to the poor, one to neighbors and relatives, and the third is kept for the household.

The skin of the sacrificed animal is donated to the Turkish Aviation Association. The income obtained from the skins is shared with Turkish Red Crescent, Children Protection Association, orphanages and other social foundations.

Another tradition practiced is visiting the graves of the deceased family members. That is mostly done one day prior the festival. Therefore, the cemeteries are very crowded on that day.

Friends, neighbors and relatives visit each other celebrating the festival. Traditionally, people offer cologne, candy and Turkish coffee during those visits. Children might be given pocket money as well. Kapicis (door keepers), maids and gardeners are also tipped during the festival.

Bayraminiz Kutlu Olsun (Buy-rahm-ihn-is Koot-lou all-soon) or Iyi Bayramlar (ee buy-rahm-luhr) are the phrases you should use to celebrate your Moslem friends' sacrifice festival.