Afghans prepare for Eid
Despite two suicide attacks, people of Kabul is undeterred as they prepare to celebrate the biggest Muslim festival.Updated: Jan 31, 2004 21:00 IST
Despite two suicide attacks on international peacekeepers in as many days in Kabul, Abdul Hafiz, like many Afghans, is undeterred as he prepares to celebrate the biggest Muslim festival of the year.
"We are going to celebrate another Eid free of the Taliban and we are going to sacrifice animals for God to help us to get over remaining difficulties," Hafiz said as he surveyed Kabul's livestock bazaar for an animal to 'sacrifice for God' during the Eid-al-Adha festival.
By tradition this festival requires Muslims to carry out Qurbani, the ritual slaughter of a sheep, cow or goat.
The timing of the three-day festival is announced by religious leaders and begins at the sighting of the new moon, which is expected some time in Afghanistan this weekend.
Kabul, policed by some 6,000 multinational peacekeepers, was the scene of two deadly attacks this week that killed a British and Canadian soldier and one Afghan civilian. More than a dozen people were injured.
Despite fears and rumours that have held sway over the city following the attacks, Kabul's grimy livestock bazaar has once again come to life with hundreds of clients eager to buy an animal to sacrifice for their beliefs.
"Just another Eid, but the good thing is that we are free of Taliban, free of war and fear," said an Afghan shopper who was haggling over the price of an ox silently chewing on grass.
Afghanistan's war-weary people have more freedom in the two years since the harsh Taliban regime was forced from power, and revel in the eradication of the religious police who used to lash people into mosques to observe the five daily prayers.
"Eid plus post-Taliban-freedom would be double joy," said Mia Jan, waiting in line to buy cookies and sweets to give the guests who visit his home during Eid.
"Definitely it would be double joy if the enemy let us enjoy it," another shopper said, referring to the ousted Taliban extremists who still attack troops and civilians.
President Hamid Karzai, who works in his two-storeyed palace from dawn to sunset, will take one day off during Eid.
"The president is going to take off the first day of the Eid and will sacrifice two lambs," his spokesman Jawed Ludin told AFP.
Eid-al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, dates back to the time of the prophet Abraham, who according to Muslim belief, was prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac to god before he received divine intervention.
The festival, which is separate to Eid-al-Fitr marking the end of the fasting month Ramadan, is also important because it coincides with the Hajj pilgrimage season, during which thousands of rich Afghan Muslims visit the holy city of Mecca.
Ahmad Sarwar, who this year has helped pay for his parents to go to Mecca, explains that this year's Eid is different from other years because people have more money.
But like many other residents in Kabul he is also concerned about the recent violence in the city which he described as 'intimidating'.
"This Eid is good; at least it's good for me because last year we were in Pakistan in refugee camps but this year we are back home," he said.
"I'm going to sacrifice a sheep to make happy the God who helped us to survive all the problems and survive the Taliban," the 38-year-old shopkeeper said after buying a sheep for 8,000 Afghanis (130 US dollars).
First Published: Jan 31, 2004 21:00 IST