Monday, December 8, 2008

All about Eid

The first day of Kurban Bayramı in Istanbul is kind of like Christmas in any big American city--the streets are eerily empty--except with fewer angel and Santa Claus icons (OK, none) and a lot more animal slaughtering.

This morning, I received the following texts* from a friend who had gone down to the largest local kurban kesim yeri (sacrifice slaughtering place):

10:30 am Dude found slaughter central for tbashi
10:33 am its down by bilgi on the mannekin street. Hfs. Im sure it prolly will still be going if there are any sheep left. ugh
10:33 am So many heads
Kurban Bayramı (Eid Al-Adha in Arabic) is the feast of the sacrifice, commemorating one of the more sadistic stories shared by the three Holy Books, in which God tests Abraham's obedience by commanding him to sacrifice his son--then sends a sheep as a last-minute substitute.

Alas, I wasn't able to get down to the livestock death camp until afternoon, when only a few cow carcasses were left to be chopped up and distributed to various families. Yellow tents full of manure, hay, and, now, blood, had been set up right by the main road to hold the animals. A few scraggly sheep were waiting across the street, hoping no last-minute shoppers would show up. Blood mixed with water ran down the gutters as people hauled their bits o' bovine down the hill in plastic bags. One man frantically called out for another bag as his friend struggled to keep his grisly slab of meat from slipping out of the ripped one he was carrying. A make-shift pulley system at the top of the hill held the remains of two cows, surrounded by spectators, including a group of children.

A couple of the boys started talking to me, the only foreigner around, and I asked them if they would have a big holiday meal that night. "Yes!" one replied, pointing to the gory scene below.

If you want to see what they were looking at, read on, but I wouldn't do it during dinnertime...

(P.S. Sorry about all the dead-animal pictures lately. I guess it's just that time of year 'round here.)

* Another amusing, though less gory, missive from a different friend read:

12:50 pm There is a cow right by your apt! T

More photos:

The scene below the kids:

And across the street:

Cleaning up the big kurban kesim yeri at the end of the day:

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