Qurban Bayram: Feast of the Sacrifice in Azerbaijan
One of the main Muslim holidays, Qurban Bayram (Feast of the Sacrifice), is being celebrated today in Azerbaijan. Righteous and non-poor Muslims are expected to slaughter sacrificial rams and distribute the meat to relatives, neighbours and those in need.
Qurban Bayram is celebrated after the end of Muslims’ annual pilgrimage to the sacred city of Mecca. The holiday takes its beginning from the biblical legend that was passed on to the Koran. The prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was going to sacrifice his son to God, but God replaced the boy with a ram.
Qurban Bayram holds an official status and is a popular holiday in modern Azerbaijan. It also acquired a social connotation in recent years.
The animals are usually slaughtered just about anywhere on this day. However, this year the Food Security Agency appealed to those selling and slaughtering animals, informing them that slaughtering may only take place at specially arranged sites. But, apparently, not everyone is complying: people commuting from the suburbs to work this morning complained about blood flowing down the road.
However, some country residents consider this holiday unethical and cruel. The most militant of them accuse fellow citizens of hypocrisy, saying that they are trying to ‘pay off’ God in this fashion each year. The ‘animal protectors’ are often accused of hypocrisy in turn, as they raise their voices once a year but quietly eat lamb the rest of the time.
Some well-known public figures also spoke out this year, taking to social networks.
Opposition politician Natik Jafarli joked:
“I understand that some of my friends want the sheep to die naturally from old age and the people to suffer from protein deficiency)) Happy holiday!”
Screenwriter Ramiz Fataliyev ironically noted:
“Today is the only day of the year when we sacrifice sheep. The rest of the year we do this to each other. After all, when we treat people badly, it does not occur to us to supply them with bows, ribbons and curls. This is inconsistent somehow. I pity the ram, and feel hurt on behalf of the people.”
Economist Togrul Mashalli offered a little ‘sheep’ statistic:
“As of 1 July 2018, there were 8 649 018 sheep in Azerbaijan. According to official data, the population of the country was 9 936 134 on the same day. In other words, we have 0.87 sheep per person.”
Many sellers raised their prices on the eve of the holiday. If the price of a live ram is on average 8 manats (about USD 5) per kilogram on a regular day, it increased to 10 manats (about 6 dollars) and more the day before the holiday.