Today, July 31st, marks the start of Eid al-Adha, a four-day Islamic festival celebrated worldwide every year. Known as Tabaski in Senegalese Wolof, the festival honors the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael, as an act of obedience to God’s command. According to the holy story, before he sacrificed his son, God intervened by sending a ram in his son’s place.
In commemoration of this, on Tabaski families slaughter a ram in ritual sacrifice after sunrise prayers at the local mosque. Traditionally, one third of the ram is kept and eaten by the family, one third is given to friends, neighbors and relatives, and one third is given to the poor. Over 90% of Senegal’s population is Muslim, and many people travel to their home villages to share a feast with their families, eating the ram, vegetables, rice, and sauces.
After the meal, children dress up and go from house to house asking for ndewenal, or pocket money, from neighbors. Men and women visit family and friends in the evening for the ziar. Wearing their best clothes, they ask for forgiveness from one another and express best wishes for the year ahead.
Preparing for Tabaski
In the weeks leading up to the holiday, traders bring hundreds of thousands of sheep to Senegal from Mali and Mauritania and corral them in pens in Dakar and other cities. In CREATE!’s partner communities, women will sell off their poultry and vegetables will be harvested for the feast.
Members of CREATE!’s Voluntary Savings and Lending Associations (VSLAs) are able to prepare for Tabaski by saving income from the sale of vegetables, chicken, and other products from their cooperative gardens. Before the holiday, VSLAs will do financial share-outs so that everyone can afford to celebrate. In addition, gifts are exchanged between family and friends, and people have new clothes made to wear for their dances and celebrations.
To our field staff and all CREATE! community members, tabaski mubarak! We wish you a peaceful and blessed time.