Crimean Tatars Celebrate Kurban-Bairam
“On January 20 the whole Muslim world is celebrating the Holiday of Sacrifice. The Crimean Tatars name this holiday Kurban-Bairam,” Elzara Abdurmanova writes .
The history of this holiday takes its origin from the biblical story of Patriarch Abraham who wanted to offer his son Isaac to God in sacrifice. The Muslim tradition substitutes the biblical “Isaac” with “Ismail,” Abraham’s elder son; according to the Muslim beliefs, Isaac is considered to be Abraham’s younger son.
The Muslims make preparations for Kurban-Bairam in advance. The day before any big holiday the Crimean Tatars fry pastry foods for supper. Traditionally these are chebureks, fried meat pies. It is customary to share them with neighbors. The Crimean Tatars consider the belief that the souls of dead ancestors could taste only the smell of fried meat a Muslim tradition, but it actually came from Tengrism, the ancient religion of the Turks and Mongols. This day is called “arfe,” which means “the day before (the holiday).”
The celebration of the Holiday of Sacrifice begins early. After washing themselves and putting on clean clothes, Muslims have a collective prayer at mosques. They read the Koran and listen to Imams’ sermons, which tell them about the origin and the significance of the ritual of oblation.
After the prayer, they perform the ritual of sacrifice. First, a prayer is said over the animal prepared for sacrifice. Next, the sheep is laid on the ground with its head towards Mecca and its owner, or a hired hand, cuts the victim’s throat.
They eat the prepared meat together, sharing it with relatives, neighbors, and poor people over the course of three days. As the sacrificial victim is prepared for Allah, it has to help the poor and reward the donors in a future life.
The Holiday of Sacrifice is celebrated on the 10th day of Zul-Hijjah, the 12th month of the Muslim lunar calendar, in the period of hajj, the sacred journey to Mecca. According to the information of the Spiritual Administration of the Crimean Tatars (SACT), at least seven Crimean citizens have gone on a hajj this year.
The Ukrainian original of this text was posted on RISU on 21 January 2005