Happy Sheep Slaughter!

Boy, oh boy.  The last 24 hours have been quite interesting.  Warning though, if you have a weak stomach, some of these pictures might make you queasy.

Yesterday was Eid Al Adha, a very important holiday in the Muslim world.  Most people know about Ramadan, but Eid Al Adha is just as important.  Maybe moreso.  It marks the willingness of Abraham to obey God when he was asked to sacrifice is his son.  You know the story.  At the last minute, God provided a ram to take the place of Isaac, alluding to the day when God would send Jesus to do the same (The Qu’ran doesn’t specify, Islamic scholars disagree, and the Bible contradicts this, but most Muslims believe that God asked Abraham to sacrifice Ishmael, a descendant of Muhammad, rather than Isaac).  So in remembrance of Abraham, Muslim families in Morocco sacrifice a lamb of their own.

I missed Eid Al Adha last year, so I was uber excited to witness it this year.  In the weeks leading up to Eid Al Adha, everyone goes shopping for their sheep, just like Americans shop for a Christmas tree.  I took Carolyn to one of these Christmas Tree sheep lots to gaze upon the sheep available for sale.  It was stinky.  And there were lots of flies.  And Carolyn spent the entire time “baaaaaaaa”-ing.

Sheep are quite expensive.  At the lot we visited, sheep went for 53 MAD/kilo.  I did the math and that’s $420 for a medium-sized female sheep.  Wow.  That is a lot for your average Moroccan.  That is a lot for me.  But many Moroccan families feel compelled to buy a sheep anyway, even though it is not required of families who cannot afford it.  Some families take out a loan and clean out their savings to buy their yearly sheep.  It’s just that important.

These sheep and goats were in the sale bin for 51 MAD/kilo.

It gets interesting though because in addition to many not having the money to buy a sheep, apartment-dwelling families don’t have the space to store one.  I have no idea where these sheep went in the days leading up to Eid Al Adha.  They strap the sheep on the backs of their mopeds, drive them home and put them…where?  We think IN the apartment.  Maybe in the basement?  Hard to tell.

These folks had a spacious yard to house their sheep who snoozed soundly, unaware of their impending fate.

Then on the day of the slaughter sacrifice, everyone brings their sheep out to the parking garage (or roof or yard if they have one).  Some people do the sacrifice themselves, but there is also a man who specializes in this sort of thing.  He goes door to door performing the sacrifice for each family.  Then the sheep is cooked and eaten, with 1/3 going to friends and family and 1/3 going to the poor.

And here are those same sheep a few hours later.

I watched a sacrifice from my balcony.  I probably should have looked away, but I couldn’t.  Some things you can’t unsee.

Folks find whatever spot they can to roast their lamb, in this case, the median.

Not to get all PETA, but a lot of sheep died yesterday.  I read that worldwide, 100,000,000 animals are sacrificed during Eid Al Adha.  I saw enough dead sheep myself yesterday to get an idea.  Wow.  Just…wow.

When everyone’s finished, the carcass truck comes by and picks up the leftovers.

This one was discarded a day or two early. Not sure why. Maybe he was just practice.

All in all, this was really interesting to watch.  Despite being surrounded by Moroccan culture, I often feel isolated from it.  But this brought it much closer to me.  I learned a lot about Islam and got to experience the culture firsthand.  I probably will never forget the sight of a lamb being gutted, but it was worth it I think.  Carolyn is still bleeting, but this too shall pass.

Eid Mubarak everyone!