Kurban Bajram, known as Eid al-Adha to the rest of the world, was last weekend and I do feel obliged to make a post about it. I’ve been avoiding this because (a) a lot happened and I’m a bad story-teller, (b) I’ve been editing my college applications, (c) I’ve been actively procrastinating on my history homework [this takes precedence to blogging], and (d) I don’t know really how to explain Bajram to people who didn’t experience it. HOWEVER, today’s the day!
Pre-reading: In order to understand today’s post, here is some information on today’s holiday, Eid al-Adha. To summarize, Eid al-Adha (known in Bosnia as Kurban Bajram) is a holiday about sacrifice. Traditionally, Muslim families sacrifice a sheep, goat, or cow and give 1/3 of the meat to the poor, 1/3 to friends, family and neighbors, and keep 1/3 for themselves. There are historical reasons and personal reasons for the killing of the animal. Historical/religious reasons for this are based on the story of Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ishmael, and Allah’s (God’s) test. When Allah commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his son in a dream, it was a test for him to prove that God was the most important thing in life. Allah saw that Ibrahim was willing to sacrifice even his son to Him, and so provided him with a sheep instead. Today, Muslims not only sacrifice an animal to commemorate their history, but when they do it they are also symbolically killing their bad habits. They also offer their wealth, in the form of meat and food, to the poor and to friends and family.
I was invited to a kurban bajram by my friend Imana. Throughout the day, I witnessed the Kurban (sacrifice of a sheep), Imana and I delivered bags of meat to their neighbors, friends and to the Imam at the mosque, I went with Imana’s family to visit the cemetery, I was stuffed with sheep liver and the delicious local specialty ‘burek,’ and I was treated to amazing hospitality which I can only hope to reciprocate someday.
One of my favorite things we did was deliver little bags of meat to the neighbors. After the sheep had been sacrificed, the butchers skinned them and separated the edible tidbits from the non-edible. Imana’s grandma cut up the Kurban meat afterwards, and we put it into small plastic bags and walked to different houses to give out the meat and to wish people “Bajram Šerif Mubarek Olsun!”, happy Bajram. Imana knew everyone, so it was really cool for me to meet her old teachers and the neighbors who knew her when she was a kid. When we gave the meat, everyone was really friendly and welcoming. It’s tradition to give kids who go around with the bags of Kurban meat a bit of money. Although we are seventeen, some of the neighbors gave Imana a few marks despite her protestations, and a few people even handed me a mark or two.
The majority of the day was just spent in the living room, enjoying time with family. Imana’s friends came over in the evening, and I really liked hanging out with them. We mainly spoke in English, but my Bosnian is decent enough that I understood them when they switched languages. I really love meeting new, friendly people, and it was really nice to just spend some time with girls my age.
All in all, I really love the holiday of kurban bajram. I think it’s my new favorite, even though Thanksgiving and Christmas are my old favorites, I still maintain that Leif Erikson Day is definitely underrated, and I watch ‘V for Vendetta’ each 5th of November in celebration of Guy Fochs Day. I guess I’ll just have to embrace each and every holiday as they come along.