One of the greatest civilizations of the past comes to a halt in the present to celebrate a 'festival of sacrifice' this week...
16.11.2010 - 16.11.2010 27 °C
Eid Al Adha is a festival of sacrifice...I'll let wikipedia do the honours here
"Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى ‘Īdu l-’Aḍḥā) or "Festival of Sacrifice" or "Greater Eid" is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son Ishmael (Isma'il) as an act of obedience to God, before God intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead. The meat is divided into three parts to be distributed to others. The family retains one third of the share, another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors, and the other third is given to the poor & needy."
I decided to take the train to the Mosque early in the AM to check things out for myself. Filled with chants of "Allah hu Akbar", from end to end the chorus resonated through every compartment of the train. Every time the train made a scheduled stop at the station, the crowd kept pouring in and the Mosque itself was quite packed. It was a mad rush towards the mosque, much like the mayhem you can expect to see at Hindu temples during festivals in a few parts of India. I stayed for less than an hour, clicked a few pictures and was on my way...figured I'd catch the train back before the crowd started leaving the mosque. On the way back, I was witness to the slaughter of a sheep and a buffalo. A group of people wrestled a struggling buffalo to the ground, tied up it's legs and with the words "Allah hu Akbar", a slit was made to the jugular vein...it was all over. Children ran from all directions while calling their friends so they could watch the slaughter together. I must mention that the thought of taking a video/picture with my camera crossed my mind but then I didn't want to subject anyone to the gore and violence, some things are better left unseen...I stood there silently dazed and confused, part of me wanted to leave but the other part was intrigued about the process. I realize that life and death is part of a cycle, but I cannot comprehend why there is a need to take another life in the name of religion. Before we point fingers at each other, we should realize this happens everywhere in the world...religiously or culturally. From rituals in Hinduism that promote slaughtering of animals as offerings to Gods/Goddesses to Thanksgiving in the US when turkeys are mass slaughtered for one day, the human race has slaughtered animals for food/sacrifice for eons now. Don't get me wrong, I'm no advocate of PETA...being a foodie myself, I do enjoy my meat. People who know me probably already know I'm not religious by any means and along those lines, I definitely don't approve of festivals that are organized around the slaughtering of animals - especially in the name of religion. I find it a bit ridiculous that animals have to suffer for stories written by men. Reaching back to the story from wikipedia above, I ask you this - if God created the Ram and also created Man. Why would he choose one of his own creations to be sacrificed over the other? God (if he/she/it even exists) should not see any difference between an animal or a human's life...it's obvious that this distinction is made only by the people that wrote these stories. If religion is pure and loving in every manner, then it's followers should learn to love - one another and people from other religions equally. We have divided ourselves a million times over with caste systems, cultural differences, skin colour, social status among many other things...religion does not need to be another reason for a divide. I hope we will someday learn to treat everyone as an equal - we are all human beings first, everything else follows later.
Anyway, enough of my rants...later that evening I went to the three pyramids and caught a glimpse of them before they closed. Getting there was fun, we caught the train to Giza and then took the mini bus (shared-cab style buses driven by private owners, they stop and pick you up and drop you off if youre route is along their way) Walking in, the huge pyramids were a majestic sight - the Sphinx was a bit smaller than I imagined it to be but a great sight to behold none the less. I was a bit sad to see that there was no organization though, once you bought a ticket you were on your own...it took me over 45 mins to try and find the Sphinx. There was a lot of activity in the site, people were constantly trying to offer you horse/camel rides or sell you things. I didn't get a chance to go inside the pyramids since they were closed but hopefully I'll go back another day.
After returning home, I met up with a local friend here and we chatted for an hour about things to see in Egypt, the local government, religion (one of my favourite topics to debate) among a few other things...
I'll write again when I get a chance...Thank you for reading. This is Sandeep...signing out!