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Kurban Bayrami (Festival of Sacrifice) in Turkey

The Feast of the Sacrifice commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in order to show his faithfulness to Allah, but Allah allowed Ibrahim to sacrifice a ram instead. Essentially the same story is in the Old Testament where Abraham was willing to kill his son Isaac, until an angel stops him.

Kurban Bayramı (Eid el-Adha), on 10 Zilhicce (Dhul-hijja) of the Islamic Hijri calendar begins with arife (preparation) in the afternoon on the first day and continues for four days.

According to Islamic rules, every Muslim who is wealthy enough must sacrifice a farm animal for God. The meat from the animal is then shared – one third for the household, one third shared between friends and neighbours and the final third given to the poor. No alcohol is consumed with this meat.

A goat or sheep of minimum one year old is killed. Sometimes even a bull or a camel of minimum 2 years old is sacrificed, representing a sacrifice of up to seven people.

There are strict rules on eligibility for sacrifice – the animals have to be at least one year old and in good health. You will see a build up of sheep near towns in the days before the festival as their owners bring them down ready to be sold. In recent years some families have begun to make charitable donations instead of the sacrifice.

In a not so distant past a butcher or the head of the family would perform the sacrifice in the garden or street. They then cut up the animal in full view for the ritual sharing of the meat. Today, such practices are prohibited by law in Turkey although in some rural areas public slaughtering is still common.

Many shops, banks and businesses will be closed for the duration of the festival. Supermarkets usually remain open but may operate restricted hours. Travel is also hectic at this time, as people visit friends and relatives to celebrate. This is also the time of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca so both international and domestic travel is intense. Try not to travel at the beginning and the end of the festival and make sure you have enough money to tide you over in case the ATM's run out of cash. Expect the markets leading up to the festival to be very busy.

Kuban Bayrami