Monday, 23 November 2009

Kurban Bayram

Friday sees the start of Kurban Bayram (The Feast of the Sacrifice), a religious holiday that is celebrated throughout Turkey.   It's as important to muslims as Christmas is to christians.  And even those lapsed or non-practising muslims see it as a time for celebration and getting together with families.

It lasts for 4  days and it's not a good time to travel as airlines and buses are fully booked and the roads exceptionally busy, with people travelling the length and breadth of the country to spend the holiday with their loved ones.   Most businesses and shops close during the holiday, as do banks and post offices.

It's  also not a good time for people like me to set  foot outside the door.   During the four-day festival, lambs are still traditionally slaughtered and the meat distributed to the poor and needy. This is mostly done in professional abattoirs, but some of the ritual slaughters take place in public places, by untrained hands and this can be extremely traumatic for the animals, as I have had the misfortune to witness in the past.  There are a lot of sheep in this village and I fear there will be a lot of slaughtering taking place on Friday.

The ritual slaughter is in  remembrance of  the ram that Abraham sacrificed in place of his son Ismail (Isaac).

Naturally, I embrace the culture of  my chosen country, and I accept and often enjoy their festivals...but I'm afraid this isn't one of them.

Come Friday you will find me behind firmly closed doors, with the curtains closed, and music on fairly loud to drown out any unpleasant sounds....looking forward to the following Tuesday when it will all be over for another year.


  1. Here, the flats in the suburbs of the big town have a big Turkish population and at festivals the lifts are full of sheep being taken up to be slaughtered in the bathtubs.

  2. Here they ritually sacrifice the wild boar at this time of year,,, well they actually just go into the woods and shoot them, but you'd be well advised to wear bright colours if you venture into the woods so not to be confused with a wild boar.

    So you haven't converted to Islam? My nephew, who has married an Indonesian woman and lives with her in a small village on Java, practically had to convert to be accepted and to get the blessing for this marriage. Now, as the richest man in the village and with an influential father-in-law, he is one of the village elders, which he finds utterly bizarre!

  3. Fly: Oh dear I don't like the sound of that..but then as long as the deed is carried out expertly and swiftly I don't really have a problem.

    I had my first taste of wild boar a couple of years ago when we were living in Selçuk. Mr Ayak had a friend who went out shooting them...there are a fair number in that area. It's absolutely delicious isn't? Needs to be cooked very slowly though or it tends to be tough.

    No I didn't convert to Islam. My husband doesn't practise his religion anymore..he believes in Allah but doesn't go to mosque or pray. We just had the civil ceremony when we were married, and avoided the religious one. Interesting story about your nephew..amazing!

  4. I had my first taste of wild boar in Turkey.It was caught in Mili Park. It was delicious. Ironic that my first taste of wild pork should be in a predominately muslim country.

    As I am vehemently against all religion of all kinds and these kinds of rituals. I can only sympathise with you Ayak. I think a festival like that would turn me into a vegetarian for good.

    Pop in Life of Brian on your DVD player and crank it up to the highest level ha ha!!

  5. I have to admit I don't really enjoy Kurban Bayram. I've never witnessed animals being slaughtered living in a big city. It's just too close to Ramazan Bayram and the protocol is exactly the same, go round the relatives, kiss hands, same faces, same conversations. I wouldn't mind cos I do like most of my husband's aunties and old neighbours but just because it's bayram everyone stands on ceremony. I'm always relieved when I get back home after a day of hand kissing and baklava eating

  6. Oh no, I wont sleep tonight, thinking of the wee souls being slaughtered.

    Ayak, you are doing the right thing, staying indoors, oh jeez, I remember you telling me of this, and how you disliked this time of year so much.

  7. How horrid!
    A bit like the Jewish Passover.
    I am a veggie so I don't want to even think about it.

    Nuts in May

  8. Amag: Life of B rian's a good idea...always look on the bright sidfe of life..haha!

    siobhan: I won't be subjected to the hand kissing and baklava eating fortunately as most of our relatives are in Ankara and other places too far too visit.

    Ann: Yes I know I mentioned it to you before. I shouldn't even be thinking about it yet because it's not until Friday...but I find myself looking at the village sheep and wondering which ones are spending their last few days alive.

    Maggie: Yes not very pleasant at all. I'm not a vegetarian but I could easily become one through this experience.

  9. I know that feast, it's called Bakr'Id. We have it here too. It is not celebrated as such in our area as there is not a large population of Muslims, but we do have a public holiday..

  10. Gaelikaa...the holiday part is's a very happy time...but I still can't get used to the slaughtering. Well I don't mind if it's done properly, it's just when it's done by amateurs that I have a problem with it.


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