The city of Benghazi shut down this week as Libyans celebrated Eid-al -adha.So I enjoyed a relaxing three days of holidays.
Eid-al-adha (feast of sacrifice /Bakri eid) is celebrated by muslims the world over to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismael for God.He was prevented from doing so by an angel and a ram was sacrificed instead.
The story of Ibrahim makes for fascinating reading.Ibrahim is a common ancestor of Judiasm, Christianity and Islam.He is revered in holy books and beliefs of these religions.They are called as Abrahamic religions.With Ibrahim as the common ancestral figure how did we end up with the bitter Arab -Isreali conflict and the Islam -Christianity ‘clash of civilizations’?
Central to the festival is the sacrifice of sheep.Sheep are sold in large numbers at the Jumma market on the outskirts of Benghazi.
I went for a walk around the city market at Funduq the evening before Eid.The market was bustling, the butchers doing brisk business as not everyone can afford to sacrifice a whole sheep.Various roadside stalls had sprung up which sold items for the sacrifice and subsequent barbeque.These included wooden chopping blocks and a variety of knives for beheading and skinning the sheep along with barbeque grills,skewers,coal e.t.c.
On a previous occasion our gregarious Libyan landlady had invited me for lunch on Eid.while I am not exactly a mutton aficionado it was a good opportunity to experience a slice of the Libyan way of life.The spread included koobz (bread), barbequed lamb,sauce,olives and salad all of which was washed down with pepsi.This is olive country and olives go into practically every dish.It imparts its particular flavor to the dish .Although the health benefits are numerous I have yet to develop a taste for it.What left a lasting impression was the warmth and the hospitality shown to us by the Libyan family.For an Indian expat far away from home it was a much cherished experience.