Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eid Mubarak!

Last Tuesday, I woke up to the sound of pounding from below.  The steady beat went on, and I hid under my covers trying to go back to sleep.  The day before, the residential streets of Dhaka were filled with a variety of animals, cows, goats...even camels.  People were buying these animals from markets...not as pets, but to sacrifice for Eid.  This particular Eid signifies Ibrahim sacrificing his son Ismael to Allah.  For those Christian readers, this is the story of when Abraham sacrifices Issac to God.  Anyway, the morning of Eid, people all over the Muslim world kill the animal that they have bought.  One third of the meat goes to family, another third to relatives, and the other third to the poor. 

There are specific rules as to how to divide the meat as well as what can and cannot be eaten.  As you can probably imagine, the city becomes pretty bloody after this mass sacrifice.  Being a vegetarian, I tried my best to hide from all of the bloodshed, but it was much harder than I thought it would be.  The water that ran down the streets were bright red with blood, and the animals that crowded the road were no longer.  By the afternoon, there were carts of cow skins on their way to leather factories and street children with bags in their hand looking for people to give them meat.  The image reminded me of American children with their Halloween bags, asking for candy.  But oh, what a different story.  

Most offices were closed for three days, right in the middle of the week.  But that didn't even seem to matter, because most Bangladeshis took the whole week off, if not more, to go back to their home villages to visit family.  The streets, for once, were not congested, and we could move from one part of the city to another in less than 30 minutes...something that is definitely not possible during other times of the year.  

Many people took pride in how much their animal cost...I heard that some animals even had their price hung from t
heir neck.  Although Ibrahim sacrificed his own son to show his love for Allah, modern day Muslims just go and buy an animal the day before, an animal that they have no attachment to, and have fun killing it on the day of Eid.  My opinion, but it seemed to be a wide-spread feeling.  Many of these cows are imported from India, crossing illegal borders from a country where killing cows is seen as sinful.  

But everyone seems to enjoy it, even though most of the meaning has been lost.  I guess that happens with many holidays...like Christmas and Easter.  I did enjoy the lack of traffic, however.  

Here are some pictures (those who can not stand the sight of blood...you might want to pass):

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