For those of you that don’t know, we have just celebrated Kurban Bayram here in Turkey – The sacrifice. This is a religious holiday and it’s in commemoration of the sacrifice that Abraham intended to make of his son, to show his devotion to Allah.
On my very first Kurban Bayram with the family, they had bought a cow between them. I dedicated a whole chapter about this in my book and there you can read about it in graphic detail, if you wish. Click here. Each and every year since then, we have had a goat or sheep. On the year we had two rams, I named them Ronnie & Reggie……
This year we had a bull between five members of the family and instead of the sacrifice being done by one of the big uncles, there is a butcher coming to the village to perform the task.
The day begins with breakfast at my mother in law’s – I’ve not seen her since she got back from her little jaunt in Urfa, where she went to make winter salca and so, along with a traditional Bayram greeting, I also give her a hug. Melisa has already flung herself at me and is busy turning my face towards her with her pudgy little hand and telling me “cucu” – which means all manner of different things, dependent on what she wants!
Before Dursin went to Urfa, I had bought her some hair dye. This may sound strange as she spends her life under a headscarf, but every now and then she likes to colour her hair. I remember her telling me that she loved the patlican colour I’d bought her in the past and so I went searching high and low for a box that said ‘patlican,’ eventually finding one in the new Kipa. Now I can see very bright wisps straying onto her forehead, very very very very very light patlican, so light in fact that we could probably call it lilac. Oooops.
“Kym my hair is completely white now and this is what happened when I put it on” Dursun explains.
My mother in law, the punk rocker
I promise to get her something to darken it.
The bull is at the back of the village, where Yilmaz Amca has spent the last few weeks, as he bought himself a drove of bullocks and has been selling them from his makeshift tents. These animals have been purchased and left in his care until today and this is where the butcher is heading. This is also where we are heading as we will be spending the day at Safiyes house, as her’s is the house closest to the tents.
The whole family show up and so begins a day of sitting outside catching up, drinking tea and waiting. There are knives everywhere, just waiting to be used in the dividing up of meat. I’ve handed out para to the kids and slipped some into Safiyes hand too, as I know Hydar is not working. I’ve been chatting to Safieyes daughter Berfin (her name is Kurdish and means Snow) who tells me her dad has agreed she can go to college because she wants to be an air hostess. At this I am completely overjoyed. Grinning from ear to ear in fact. She is the first youngun to say she wants to be something other than married!
Ayfer is heavily pregnant and I can see by her face that she is getting painful twinges. She tells me she will have her cesarean on Wednesday as that is when the anesthesiologist will be back from his Bayram holiday! I have a feeling the baby may not wait untll then.
Eventually there is a stir – an excitement in the air…it seems it’s the turn of our bull to meet his maker. Once this is done, everyone arms themselves. The skin is removed in one piece and this, along with all the others from the day, are donated to charity. The men set about dividing the carcass and each chunk is passed over to the women who wash and chop. It’s just a big family gathering. Everyone has a job to do and everyone is playing their part. I could pick up one of the knives if I wanted and pitch in, but I don’t. I do what I always do and play with the kids! Today, after taking millions of selfies….I am teaching them how to play five stones….. I love the way they are fascinated with the simplest of things.
When all has been divided between the large bowls and parcels for the poor, and everything has been washed and put away, large pans of Sac Kavruma are prepared and cooked by the men, alongside pans of plain beef and liver and we all sit down and tuck in.
NB: As a writer, my photo’s and stories are not intended to offend anyone, purely to document and show what daily life is like here in Turkey and what it is like to be part of my Kurdish family.
Here are a few more photos from the day……