Kurban Bayram Feast of the Sacrifice

Feast of the sacrifice is the second largest feast of the Islam next to the Festival of Breaking the Fast. The feast takes place on the tenth day of the Islamic pilgrimage month and this year it's on 25 October. Our office in Turkey will be closed on the 24 till 29 of October.

During this pelgrimage month, named Hadj, millions of Muslims all over the world pilgrimage to Mecca. This pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of the Islam and every Muslim that is healthy and disposes of sufficient financial means, is obliged to go on the journey at least once in his life to this important city in Saudi Arabia. At the 10th day of the pilgrimage month, the celebration offering begins throughout the world, which subsequently last three to four days. During the celebration offering sheeps, goats, cows and sometimes camels are slaughtered as a sacrifice to God. The animals that are going to be slaughtered during the celebration offering, are bought a few weeks in advance and simply put at the house. As a child you play with your sheep, goat or cow until it needs to serve a higher purpose.  

The offering displays a Muslim's obedience to God, like Ibrahim was prepared to sacrifice his son to God. One night Ibrahim had a dream where God spoke to him and said that he had to sacrifice his beloved son Ishmael. Devout as Ibrahim was, he called for Ishmael and he told his heartbreaking task. Ishmael told his father not to mourn: if it was God's will, it had to be fulfilled and he walked with his father to the sacrificial place. There it turned out, just as Ismael went on his knees and his father with his knife at the ready, that God just wanted to test Ibrahim's faith. As he passed the test with flying colours, God sent a ram to Ibrahim which he could slaughter instead of Ishmael. For believers, the story of Ibrahim and Ishmael stands by God's absolute power over all his creations and that obedience to God, however difficult the circumstances may be, eventually leads to peace and redemption.

But next to the religious aspects, Kurban Bayram also has a great social and humanitarian meaning. Every Muslim who can afford it, needs to sacrifice an animal. One third of the meat is eaten at home, one third is for family and friends and one third for the poor. In Turkey, unfortunately, a piece of meet is still a great luxery for a lot of people and Kurban Bayram, for them, is one of the few occasions where it is served during the year.

For a lot of foreigners, it's a gruesome sight in Alanya to see people at their house slaughter a sheep, goat or cow with their own hands. Special places are often indicated by the cities where the slaughtering should take place, but that doesn't alter the fact that a lot of families still do it at their own home, especially on smaller and conservative municipalities. For a lot of people in larger cities and higher educated, westernized elite, the slaughter ritual is regarded as not aesthetic and unhygienic and they stay far away from it.

Tips for a successful ceremonial offering
- The theme of Bayram is paying a visit and getting a visit. Everyone gets up early, wears his or hers Sunday clothes, sets off or waits for who will come over. An infallible system applies where ranks and classes determine who visits who. Regarding the family, it is customary that young people visits the elderly. The oldest man in the man's family is the one who gets the first visit. Next it's the uncles, aunts, older brothers and sisters turn. This system also applies within companies; the managing director is visited by the managers, the managers, for their part, are visited by their subordinates. Students and pupils visit their teachers and also the mayor and leaders of political parties are paid a visit from people lower in rank.

- Typical of bayram is the kissing or taking the hand of elderly people or people higher in rank to the forehead. It is regarded as a sign of respect. It's true that it's taken more and more out of circulation in the larger cities and within higher educated families, nevertheless, it is considered obligatory with Bayrams in smaller communities and conservative families.

- A lot of houses are cleaned from top to toe for the Bayram, ready to welcome visitors. Most housewives won't be happy to see a visitor walking in with his shoes on. The shoes are left outside at the door and "guest slippers" are waiting inside.

- An average Bayram visit doesn't take long, about an hour. They drink tea, eat something and then the next visitor is already at the door or you need to go somewhere yourself. It's polite to accept the food that is offered.

- Someone who has Turkish neighbours, who slaughter an animal during the ceremonial offering, will be offered some of the meat that they are preparing. It is the custom to return the plate with fruit, candy or other food.

- Elderly people often give money or candy to the young people who kiss their hands. Children often go from door to door to kiss hands, hoping that they will receive candy or small change. 


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