East Meets West

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


December 31st is just around the corner and you know what that means. Well, this year it means Kurban Bayram in Turkey - the Holiday of the Sacrifice.

Once upon a time there was a guy called Ibrahim (Abraham). He was asked by God to show his devotion by sacrificing one of his sons. In Christian tradition, that son's name was Isaac. According to Islam it was the other son, Ismail that was to get the axe. Ibrahim did what he was told and at the last moment, his son miraculously turned into a lamb.

To commemorate this miraculous event, Eid el Adha is celebrated every year. It also marks the end of the Haj Pilgrimage to Mecca. Families that can afford to have an animal sacrificed to give thanks to Allah, and the meat is given to the poor. It has come to my attention that this ancient tradition has taken on a very modern twist in Turkey.

According to my friend Lucy, it's a major PR coup if a hypermarket (giant supermarket) becomes the site of the neighborhood's sacrifices. Not only do they get hundreds of people visiting their store during the holidays, they also build up good will with the locals. Take Carrefour for example. In some cities they build a huge pit in their parking lot to help with the sacrificial draining. They set up an area for the animals. They offer a 'sacrifice package' - you pick out your animal, and they will house, feed, take care of and slaughter it for you. And you can pay for your holiday package with a credit plan of 6 installments! I don't think Allah saw that one coming when he did the ol' switcharoo on the mount...

My colleague Gamze found another convenient way to give thanks during the holiday season -
www.aloadak.com. Like choosing a hottie from an online dating service, you can pick out your sacrificial lamb over the internet, make arrangements for the sacrifice and pay online. According to the site "Those who don't have time to go to the Animal Market can call our Hello Sacrifice hotline or contact us through our website for all your sacrificial needs." No fuss, no muss, settle your holiday duties with just one phone call!

I wonder if there's an online confession service for Catholics...

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