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Eid-ul-Azha is the largest religion festival of Muslims. Muslims believe it brings both Allah’s divine blessing, and an opportunity to receive Allah's Mercy and reward through sacrifice and benevolence, patience and constancy. Important public buildings, stores and main roads are decorated with national flags and banners inscribed with 'Eid Mubarak' ("Blessed Eid"). The word Eid in Arabic means 'festivity’.
Eid al-Azha celebrations start after the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia by Muslims worldwide. The date is approximately 70 days after the end of the month of Ramadan. The last day of Ramadan is also an Eid holiday, known as Eid-ul-Fitr (“Breaking the fast Eid”).
Eid-ul-Azha is also known as Korbani Eid or Qurbani Eid. Since it includes a three-day government holiday, it is also a time when families either travel to their family’s villages or take vacations. Roads, trains, buses, airlines and boats are overcrowded beyond imagination.
Overcrowded launches leaving our port
People trying to get standing room only on the train at the main train station.
When the trains are full, some people choose to ride free on the roof of the trains. Sadly, this weekend alone at least 8 people have died as a result of this dangerous mode of travel.
Crowds wait hours for intercity buses, which are overbooked and running very late due to excessive Eid road traffic. We took this photo just outside our gate!
For a week leading up to Eid-ul-Azha, the streets are full of temporary animal markets, where vendors sell cows and goats for those who can afford the cost. Our city has looked like a carnival with all of the vendors (some even selling cotton candy). Streets smell and look like barnyards with giant piles of hay and hundreds of thousands of cows. Several unconscious cow sellers have been taken to hospitals because of drinking water or tea that contained drugs. When they are passed out, they can easily be robbed.
On the morning of Eid-ul-Azha millions of Muslims offer Eid prayers at mosques throughout the country seeking peace and prosperity for the nation. Starting at 5am the mosques begin their call to prayer throughout the cities. Devoted Muslims commemorate Hazrat Ibrahim's (Prophet Abraham’s) devotion to almighty Allah by his readiness to sacrifice his dearest son Hazrat Ismail. (Muslims believe it was Ishmael instead of Isaac)
Consequentially the prayers were followed by sacrificing animals. At the morning prayers, special representatives of the mosque are commissioned to perform the ritual killing of the animals.
Millions of cows and goats are sacrificed on the city streets and roads until the streets and ditches are colored red.
After the animal sacrifice, the meat is shared with their relatives, neighbors and poor people.
The animal skins are cleaned and often donated to a local mosque.
To see more photos, find us on Facebook (Richard-Suzanna Hanham)!
Trust in the Lord with your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
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