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Christine Galipeau - Blog Post 3: Eid Al-Adha

Christine Galipeau - Blog Post 3: Eid Al-Adha

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He sat at the table with a blood-splattered shirt. My eyes wandered up and down his body, noticing what looked like thick red paint on his ear. I am not sure what was more strange to me: that a man with a bloody shirt was eating breakfast at my side or the casual air that everyone had about the whole situation. For the sake of context, let’s go back to early morning when my host, Rifat awoke me:

“It’s time for the sacrifice, get up!”

For Rifat and her lovely family, Eid al-Adha (also known as Feast of the Sacrifice) is an important time of the year. It is an Islamic holiday that brings families together for celebratory and traditional purposes. The main thread that links all Muslims during this holiday is the ancient story of Ibrahim who was willing to sacrifice his firstborn son Ismail to Allah. Why would a father dream of doing such a thing? Well, it appears that Ibrahim was willing to give up Ismail to show just how much he loved his God. Allah was impressed with Ibrahim’s gesture, and decided to show him mercy. Allah struck a deal with Ibrahim, and told him that it would be ok to sacrifice a lamb instead.

This is the main reason why, during Eid Al-Adha, Muslims sacrifice an animal. Usually the animal is a goat, cow, camel, or lamb. The idea is to honour the day Ibrahim and Allah had that intense moment together. After the sacrifice, or the “suffering “as it was put to me, meat is distributed to family, friends, and the poor.

Now back to my story…

Rifat pointed down the balcony and showed me which cow belonged to her family. I could clearly see it from the balcony along with the other “chosen” animals. One by one, three cows and two goats were sacrificed that morning. I could not watch this happen. This should not imply that I got off clean. I heard the goats scream for their lives, saw the pools of thick blood, and smelled death all morning. Shortly after breakfast, Rifat brought me to her mother-in-law’s home. The journey was short, but the walk was surreal. I walked on a narrow road between dead animals and tried not to step in blood. This proved to be impossible.

When we arrived at her mother-in-law’s home, I witnessed about 9-10 men, skin and cut a cow apart. In case you want to know, this takes about three hours. A highly skilled group of men can do it in about two hours. It is quite the experience to witness men work in this manner while listening to Bengali classics. When the job is done, you see people carrying bags of meat, which gets distributed throughout the community.

All you can smell during the day of Eid Al-Adha is dead cow. I remember thinking that this would be a vegetarian’s nightmare. I assure you that you don’t have to guess what will be on the menu for lunch and dinner. Yep, meat and more meat. People wondered why the skinny white woman would decline food all day. What can I say? I just lost my appetite.

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