Wandering around the neighborhood on Eid al-Adha

Back at the end of November there was an important Muslim holiday called Eid al-Adha, known in English as the “Festival of Sacrifice”. It is called this because it is traditionally celebrated with the slaughter of an animal: usually a cow or maybe a goat. Catie and I had been told that when this holiday occurs in Chittagong that “the streets run red” with the blood of all the sacrificed animals. Upon hearing this most people at AUW decided to get the heck out of the city for a few days or at least shut themselves up in their apartments temporarily, but quite on the contrary I was very excited to go out and see (and yes, photograph) the festivities for myself. Catie and Denise were up for the experience as well so on the morning of the day of sacrifices we wandered out into the streets to see what we could see.

We started off quite early (around 8AM) and there weren’t very many people out. Rickshaws and CNGs were scarce and all the shops were closed. There was more activity and prayer than normal at the nearby mosque though and we saw a number of men heading that way. Eventually we wandered into a somewhat upscale neighborhood in the hopes that we might be able to see some decorated cows there before the sacrifice. This turned out to be rather easy as on every street there was cow after cow (after goat) after cow each tied up in front of individual homes. We kept walking deeper into this bovine maze until we hit something of a dead end, at which point we were greeted by a large number of people who lived along that street. They were happy to see us but also curious as to why we were wandering about that morning. We communicated to them that we were interested in the holiday and had come out early to admire the cows. We were about to say our goodbyes and continue our aimless wandering, but a couple of young girls got excited about our quest and took it upon themselves to be our guides in finding all the biggest and most impressive cows in the neighborhood. (And I must say, they were most satisfactory guides indeed!)

What with a group of three tall white people and two young Bengali girls strolling about gawking at and taking pictures of cows, it didn’t take long for the snowball effect to occur so that we had an immense following of local Bengali people walking around with us. The kids would amuse themselves at our interest in the cows and the men would beckon us over to photograph them with their particularly impressive animal (or with their family, friends, and neighbors at large).

At one point a boy of about 10 years excitedly waved me over towards a car parked on the side of the street. I wasn’t sure what he wanted but I followed him to the front windshield of the car where he had started to point at something on the dashboard. It turned out to be a little toy dancing flower, and the boy was gesturing at me to take a picture of it. I happily obliged and showed him the image on the back of my camera, and he looked, smiled, and laughed before running back to the group. That moment felt so pure and positive; it reminded me of being a kid and getting my hands on a camera for the first time and promptly “wasting” a whole roll of film photographing my ninja turtles and matchbox cars. I wish I could have followed that boy to all of the other things in his world that he thought would make good photos.

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)

Photo taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on November 28, 2009.

This post contains general photos from our exploration throughout the day – of some of the people we met and things we saw – but does not really include any images of animals (living, being killed, or dead). I’m going to save those for another post or two. (Consider this your first fair warning of some imminent violent imagery to come…)

Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)
Chittagong, Bangladesh (Nov 28, 2009)

Photos taken in Chittagong, Bangladesh on November 28, 2009.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Responses to “Wandering around the neighborhood on Eid al-Adha”

  1. Catie says:

    I love these, Dan. I really love the bricks one, and the one of the man and the boy sitting on the sidewalk next to each other.

  2. Dan Bretl says:

    Thanks Cat! But you always get so exasperated with me whenever I stop to take photos of bricks!

  3. Emily says:

    I really like #10, the boys have great expressions on their faces! And the ones with Catie in them are sweet :)

Leave a Reply