18 October 2013

Kurban Bayramı

The 3-4 day holiday of Kurban Bayramı (Festival of Sacrifice) begins about 70 days after the end of Ramazan. A religious-based festival commemorating the sacrifice to God by Abraham (Ibrahim) of a ram in place of his son, it is meant to be a time of sharing. Strictly speaking, it offers the supreme opportunity for Muslims to practise charity, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Ibrahim’s sacrifice is reenacted through slaughtering of meat animals for sharing amongst friends, family, and the poor. Nowadays, city-dwellers pay a fee to abattoirs to have meat prepared in their name for distribution. Because Avanos is a relatively rural community, there is still apparently some local ‘sacrificing’ that goes on, as evidenced by our terrier bringing home a stomach the other day, and a cow’s foot this afternoon: dogs love Kurban Bayramı.

Practising Muslims begin the first day of Kurban Bayramı with a visit to the Mosque. Muslim or not, everyone dons their best clothes and spends the rest of the holidays visiting friends and family, paying particular tribute to the elder generations. New outfits for children mean that their old clothes can be given to the poor.

Here in the clay studio, neighbourhood children come calling, wishing us Happy Bayram, showing us respect by a kiss on the right hand before touching it to their foreheads. In return, they receive a sweet, a kiss, and a “Happy Bayram”. The days & evenings are an endless stream of visitors, allowing us little time for working.

Coupled with Bayram is a 2-day national Turkish holiday.  This means all government offices are closed for the entire week.  Roads are jammed with travellers; airline tickets, bus tickets, and  hotel rooms are as scarce as hens’ teeth. But business is brisk for the many shopkeepers here who cater to tourists. Friends & acquaintances are among the best customers. It’s a time for tea & sweets and autumn garden bounty, shared in the warmth of good company.

Next week, the nation gets back to work. And I can finally get that letter mailed at the post office.
Hot-air balloons rise at dawn

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