Sivasli, Usak Province

Warning: the following post contains blood and gore

On Monday night last week, Kurban Bayrami Arife (Sacrifice Holiday Eve), Umut drove Beysun and I up north, through 5 provinces (Antalya, Burdur, Denizli, Afyon and Usak) in 3 hours to Sivasli, Beysun’s home village in Usak province.

Beysun’s sister, Camile and her husband and daughter were visiting from Izmir and it was a fine family occasion.

Beysun’s wonderful Mother makes almost everything, including tomato powder, pepper paste and dried fruit. In Sivasli I ate roasted sugar beet for the first ever time.

With Umut, Beysun, Beysun’s sister family and Mother

Sivasli, with the single lane highway running through and its country atmosphere where everybody knows or is related to everybody else reminded me of one the Eyre Peninsula towns located on Eyre highway between Ceduna and Port Augusta, the location of many childhood travels. The zero to five degree temperatures, frozen puddles and snow-capped mountains did not reflect Eyre Peninsula, though.

Sivasli’s sunset

Tuesday morning it was time for the sacrificial slaughter, commemorating the time when Ibrahim (Abraham) was going to sacrifice his young son when he saw a ram nearby and instead sacrificed that. This Muslim tradition is more popular in rural and conservative areas of Turkey than in the large western cities.

Sacrificing the ram

Beysun’s extended family sacrificed both a ram and a cow. First, the ram was killed, hung, skun and gutted. Beysun’s 81 year old Grandmother played a main role in the sacrifice. She is wonderfully agile for an aged lady.

Grandma with her ram

Later, a butcher came to slaughter the cow. After the cow was killed and beheaded, its body twitched instinctively for minutes.

The butcher gutting the cow

The cow cost around 1000 YTL to purchase. Historically in Turkey some people have misused Kurban Bayrami to show off their wealth. The larger the size and numbers of animals killed the richer and more important the owner.

Cleaning the driveway

The butcher took the cow skin and a charity worker came to collect the ram skin. The skins are sold to leather manufacturers and charities earn a large amount of money this way.

Within 2 or 3 hours of slaughter, select portions of the cow and ram were being grilled over the fire in the shed and eaten wrapped in ‘yufka’ a very thin and flaky bread.

Mother and daughter grilling lunch

During Bayram Turkish television stations played video footage of escaped bulls damaging property and knocking people over whilst their would-be slaughterers tried to contain them.

This was my first close look at the slaughter part of this holiday. I believe the practise of uncontrolled backyard slaughters is illegal in Turkey, although it will take a long time to completely stop. The cold of winter certainly made the slaughter more tolerable. In summer it must stink and be far less hygienic.

Umut and I took two buses to get to Antalya, changing in Burdur. Afyon Province was cold enough for ice to form on the sink of a petrol station’s toilet.

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