Feast of the Sacrifice

Blood in the streets…

Taghazout, Morocco – October 26th, 2012

Today is the holiday of Eid al-Adha, and the streets runneth deep with the blood of sacrificed sheep…

Ok, let me give a little context to this morbid intro. Eid al-Adha (aka Feast of the Sacrifice) is a Muslim holiday. Abdulla, the man whose house I am staying at, gave me the low-down: Basically, it’s based on a Qur’an story wherein Ibrahim was asked by God to sacrifice his most prized possession, his only son, still a young lad. Ibrahim submitted to Allah’s will and was about to go through with it and slit his child’s throat. God, upon seeing Ibrahim’s proof of devotion, sends him a sheep instead to be sacrificed, saving his son.

So now, every year on the 12th month of the lunar Islamic calendar, livestock all across the world are sacrificed and eaten. Our friend Boubker, from Mirleft in South Morocco, told us it costs about 2000 Moroccan Dirham ($230) to buy a sheep (a not-insignificant amount for locals) and everyone with the means should sacrifice one or else it’s bad luck. For the past week, there have been tons of sheep on the move: tied to roofs of cars, in markets, being carried into homes. Bleating. Poor guys, I really do think they sensed what was coming…

And thusly, the streets of Taghazout this morning were running red with the fresh blood of sheep. There are some drums, some prayers and then the poor guys’ time is up. I walked around town, trying not to get my feet wet in the red blood-water running through the alleys and out of drainpipes. Sheep hung by their feet from walls, poles and trees, being butchered on the spot.

Fresh sheep kebab

By late morning, the air began to fill with the scent of charcoal briquettes. Fire up the barby’s, it’s time to put the kebabs on! It’s a 3-day feast and already smelt delicious! Abdullah’s wife has become infamous in the household for her excellent cooking. (She also makes a mean fish tagine.)

Later in the afternoon Abdullah came up to my room. “Outside, you can see them playing with the skins”. I grabbed my camera and walked out into the street, wholly unprepared for the madness of what awaited. Youths were dressed up in darkened sheep skins, running around, harassing people for money. It was funny until they started beating you with a stinky sheep’s foot. There was an interesting parade, with several costumes. Little kids were painted all black and chased by an Indian with an axe. The sheep-ghouls ran around harassing tourists, locals, shopkeepers and passing cars, and chasing little kids – no innocent observer was safe. They didn’t hurt you, but definitely got up in your face and you could get your clothes pretty dirty & stinky from getting hit with a dismembered sheep foot! Pretty interesting. Reminds me that Halloween is approaching :) It is now dinner time and a sheep’s head is being burnt beneath my window…

Happy Halloween, and after 2 years without it, can’t wait to be back home to celebrate it next year!

Erich out!

A sheep-man approaches seeking monetary appeasement

No innocent observer was safe

pay up or you gonna get smacked with this puppy