Qurban holiday in Baku
September 12-13 are days off in Azerbaijan. Qurban Bayram is the holiday with a sacrificial lamb acting as a main character.
Our ancestors didn’t see anything wrong in the sheep slaughtering process. Just imagine: the Middle Ages, the plague, the great famine; there is neither the sewage nor the water supply system; slops are poured out of the windows right into the streets in the European capitals. And somewhere, in a country house, children are taken to a neighbor before a lamb is slaughtered. And that’s amidst the times, when people were broken on the wheel right in children’s presence, to say nothing of the fact that people thought, there wasn’t anything wrong with the livestock slaughter.
Nowadays, children think that meat grows on the trees in plastic containers, it is gathered from the trees and brought to the supermarkets. What will happen to a child’s psyche if a living being is slaughtered right in front of his eyes? Personally I know know some kids, who may well blow the whistle on their parents to the UNICEF for that.
The matter seems to be settled. However, we, the Bakuvians, haven’t closed down the topic yet: because we live in such a wonderful, funny place, where the East meets the West, where Europe meets Asia and, at the same time, it’s the place where medievalism meets civilization.
So, once in a year, on Qurban holiday, there is one and the same discussion: to slaughter or not to slaughter? Or, to be more precise, surely to slaughter, because in any case we need the pilaf with fresh lamb, we need to treat the family members and, as is tradition, to give one-third of the meat to the needy. But could that be done ostentatiously along the road, in broad daylight?
Qurban Bayrami or Kurban-Bayram (literally ‘The Sacrifice Feast) is a Muslim holiday that honors Prophet Ibrahim, who agreed to sacrifice his son, as an act of submission to Allah’s command. However, Allah, who’d made sure that his faith was true and genuine, sent him a lamb as an alternative. The Christians recognize in this story the Old Testament legend about Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. And no wonder, because the ‘historical’ part of Quran is a narration of the developments given in the Old and New Testaments.
So, this tradition dates back to the Old Testament paganism, which is so dear to our hearts. Therefore, those Azerbaijanis, who observe the traditions, celebrate Qurban wholeheartedly. If you have a fiancé, a crowd of your relatives will all together bring her a ram, she will put her foot on it and afterwards it will be solemnly slaughtered. Then the animal will be skinned, cut up and served round the relatives, as well as some needy strangers. Or, if you have been long ‘promised a sacrifice’ for a success in some important matter, it’s high time to present the whole lamb to the mosque, where the meat will be distributed to the poor. On a side note, any animal could be slaughtered, be it a cow, a rooster or a goat.
If you ask the faithful, in general, they would say, on this day the Muslims unite for a festive prayer; this is the day of charity, when the rich feed the poor, and the families gather at the festive table.
However, if you ask Bakuvians, who are still unwilling to feel themselves the residents of Asia, they will say, it’s the day when the possessed pagans flood out the city streets with the blood of innocent animals, and moreover, they congratulate each other on that occasion.
From my personal point of view, sheep are slaughtered anyway throughout the year and I don’t see any tragedy in it. I even don’t see anything wrong if it’s done in a child’s presence. After all, things that appear on the TV screen could be worse than that. What I find much more annoying are the vulgar pictures with some ‘cute’ lambs, congratulating everyone on the sacred holiday. Or that tradition to tie a bow on a ram’s horn. In my opinion, that’s something from the field of pathology.