Turkmenistan: Three Days of Bayram
Gurban Bayram, known in the Arab world as Eid al-Adha and sometimes as “The Big Eid,” is the Muslim feast of the sacrifice, commemorating Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) willingness to sacrifice his son. Though the sacrifices in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat were consigned mostly to the butcher shop, the three-day state holiday offered a prescribed opportunity for uniformed students to observe public dancing and music performances, as well as some family time.
At the Ottoman-style Ertogul Gazi mosque in central Ashgabat, known as the “Turkish Mosque,” because it was funded and opened by the Turks in 1996, roughly 3,000 men turned up for Friday prayers on November 19. One regular visitor said the number was tempered by the state-holiday. Many stayed at home, he said, having already prayed on the Bayram holiday earlier in the week.
EurasiaNet also visited Central Asia’s largest house of worship, the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque – named after the former president – but was forbidden from photographing the deserted space during Friday prayers. Though one official on site claimed the building could accommodate up to 20,000 visitors, few turned up to pray under inscriptions from former President Saparmurat Niyazov Turkmenbashi’s national epic, the Ruhnama. The 91-meter minarets – marking the year of Turkmenistan’s independence from Moscow – are inscribed with slogans from the book such as: “The Ruhnama is a holy book; the Koran is Allah’s book.” Soldiers guard the desolate site.
Elsewhere in Ashgabat, the three-day state holiday was a family affair, with extended relations inviting each other to afternoon feasts at home.
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