Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, is celebrated annually on the 10th day of the 12th and the last Islamic month of Dhu-al Hijjah. Use of the lunar calendar explains why the date drifts each year by 11 or 12 days.
This year's festival was celebrated yesterday. A year ago, my friends Bobby and Carol Long took part in the festival in Morocco, and Bob has contributed this guest post:
We were in Morocco for last year's feast, and it was an extraordinary experience. Hamid, our driver and guide, arraigned for us to dine at his aunt's house. We were a bit nervous, being last minute guests, but Carol bought a nice gift of sweets that really broke the ice. It was a walk up apartment with a well worn kitchen and a water closet that you could find with your nose. They had a rooftop terrace that was serving as an abattoir and kitchen for the event. There were four slaughtered sheep and a very agitated live one. I felt sorry for it.
We entered the public room which was rectangular in the Arab style, with seating on the three walls. Hamid's 92 year old grandfather held court in the place of honor, where he would recline from time to time. The women sat on one side of the room and the men on the other. Hamid served as translator.
The kids wasted no time sitting around me and asking me my name. Bobby is always pronounce Bo-Be outside of the US, so I pointed to myself and said, "Ali Baba", much to their delight. We tried out our French, Spanish and Berber for everyone's amusement. The ladies then returned to the roof and Carol went with them. I watched Hamid's uncle preparing kababs of something I was unfamiliar with. I inquired and was promptly handed a piece of boiled sheep's liver. It was a good thing I like liver. He was placing thin strips of sheep's fat around the skewers of sheep's liver. (You can see it in the attached picture) From time to time, a pretty young Berber teen would come through the room bearing a skewer of grilled lamb, and we would each take a piece. It was the best lamb I've ever had.
I walked up to the roof to watch the proceedings, and Carol said that Hamid's aunt wanted a picture of the two of them. So, I headed down to the car with the kids in tow. I decided to use my point and shoot, so as to be somewhat discreet. I turned to take a picture of the children, only to find that I had a dead battery. I said, "Un momento", and turned around to grab the Nikon with the big, wide angle lens. The kids squealed with surprise when I turned around with that rig. I've attached the two pictures I took. You'll note the tiny grill being used to feed a houseful of hungry guests.
Soon the ladies retired to their dining area and us men got to feasting. Skewer after skewer of lamb was served, followed by a large plate of lamb shank and flat bread to eat it with. I made a point of sitting on my left hand, so as not to give offense. I heard, "Eat, don't be shy" until I was about to burst. Hamid's grandfather used sign language to make sure his honored guest was having a good time.
We were on a schedule, so too soon, it was time to leave. I practically had to drag Carol away from the ladies. Language barrier be damned, they were all having a very good time. It was an experience that you can't buy, and one we will never forget. I imagine we were mentioned during Sunday's feast. Wish we could have been there for it.
There is a whole world of decent, god fearing people out there that Americans know nothing about. I'm happy that I can now claim to be a bit less ignorant of it.
– Bobby Long, November 2012
Photos from the author