Friday, November 19, 2010

Tabaski Part One (with somewhat graphic photos at the end)

WARNING: There are three photos that some people may find disturbing at the bottom of this post.

In this post I will recount some of the details of our neighborhood's Feast of Tabaski (Eid al-Adha) activities.  In my next post I'll recount the three Tabaski celebrations we were privileged to attend.

Leading up to Tabaski the streets of Bamako were teeming with les moutons (rams/male sheep).  Even the neighborhood's main soccer pitch was converted to a makeshift home for many rams.  As the day approached people began buying rams for their family feasts.  Below is a photo the tailor Modibo, whose shop is on our property, with the ram he purchased and drove home about 10km on his moped.
And here is a picture of Rebecca trying to feed the ram some squash.

Rebecca and I started our day at 8:30am with a walk around our neighborhood of Badalabougou.  We live sort of near the "B" on the map.

View Larger Map

We went out for an early walk because we were told that people would be sacrificing their rams and we wanted to see what that was all about.  As we approached the neighborhood mosque, traffic was stopped and men were lined up and down the nearby main street praying in the traditional Muslim style on mats facing Mecca.  I assume the mosque was full, and you could hear the prayers chanted over the mosque's speakers usually used for the call to prayer.

Soon prayers ended and people were streaming back home dressed in their finest clothes.  It is traditional to buy a new outfit for Tabaski -- especially for the children.  Rebecca and I sat on a door stoop on a main street near the mosque and watched the people walk by, offering many children and some adults the holiday greeting of "Sambay Sambay", which I don't understand.  We had our cameras with us, but both of us feel a bit uncomfortable taking pictures without permission, so we didn't take many, but as you'll see by the end we couldn't resist documenting a little.

By 9:30 or so, we noticed the side-streets were filling with people and hopeful we might see a ram sacrifice we continued our walk.
What we saw was repeated in front of every home.  I'll describe it (somewhat graphically) here and there are a few photos at the bottom of this post.  As you can see above, entire families are standing in front of their homes.  One young man from the family, using a pick or shovel, digs a small pit in the road about the size of a large mixing bowl.  Then 2-4 men, depending on the size of the ram holds the ram to the ground on it's side with its neck positioned above the pit.  One man takes a sharp large knife and quickly slices deeply into the ram's throat, killing it instantly from what I could tell.

We saw this repeated countless times in front of nearly every house.  Walking down the street there was a ram being slaughtered every 25 or 50 feet.  Immediately after the sacrifice the rams are skinned, cleaned, and butchered.  Soon the pleasant smell of fresh lamb on the grill was wafting throughout the neighborhood.

As a meat-eater and an animal lover I have some mixed emotions about what I witnessed.  These animals led relatively good lives -- especially during their final days when they were well-fed.  They were slaughtered by familiar people in a familiar place in a relatively humane manner.  It sucks to see an animal killed, and I'm not sure I could do it myself.  But the fact remains that many animals have been killed by others on my behalf.

One final note: during their outdoor playtime on the day after Tabaski many of Rebecca's kindergarten students did a make-believe animal sacrifice, butchering, and cooking.  Some had certainly witnessed their family's sacrifice.  Though I'm not sure I'd want my five year-old child to witness something like this I cannot find fault in it either.  Butchering animals is a natural part of eating and an important part of their religion.

Below are three pics of the sacrifice and it's aftermath.  As I said earlier, we didn't take many photos. You have been warned!
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1 comment:

  1. "Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell"--Cake

    ReplyDelete