Saturday, November 19, 2011

You don't want pics of this...

A couple of weekends ago it was the second Eid (religious holiday) here in Bangladesh. This Eid is known as the Bloody Eid as the people who can afford it, sacrifice a cow. For the three days leading up to Eid there was a livestock auction just outside of our neighborhood. After the auction cows were herded throughout the city to their new owners. Some well off families would have many cows. So for two days these cows were tied up outside of houses and washed daily. Some of these cows were good looking animals. Here are a few pictures of cows that were just down the street.

Conrad (one of the interns at the school) called the day before and asked if I wanted to go on a bike ride. I have been finding it very hard to get motivated to ride because the air quality here makes riding hard. So the outside motivation was welcomed and we agreed to meet at 7am to ride.

The ride was nice and we got out of Dhaka enough to see the pace of life slow. On the way out the the kids were all huddled around nondiscript locations on the side of the road. As we would ride by they would all turn around and yell what English they knew. Usually consisting of "Hi", "How are you (as a statement not a question), and "Thank you". Once in a while they would yell "What's your name?" like they expected us to stop and shoot the breeze with them. They would run after us for a little ways. We finally realized that because all the adults were at mosque they were trying to keep the kids occupied so they had set up these roadsides stands to distribute sweets.

On the way home all of the Mosques seemed to get out at the same time so the roads were flooded with people. Adults and children all dressed up in new and overly ornate clothes walking to their homes. We were just outside of Dhaka when we came upon our first cow being slaughtered. We road by in quiet shock. The next one we passed was right on the side of the main road. This gets pretty gruesome, so if you just ate you may want to skip it.

The cows are hobbled and then tipped over. The owner and friends or staff will hold the animal down and a special person then does the sacrificing. They cut the main artaries in the neck of the animal. Then they cut through the throat and pull the head back to let the animal bleed to death. For the next minute or two the animal is alive and is kicking and making the most horrible breathing noises through its now cut wind pipe. Pretty intense to watch. The rest of the ride home we saw countless cows in various stages of being butchered. Cows being skinned, being litterally hacked apart, cows being gutted... The worst was that part of our ride was through a small village where the streets were narrow with barely room for a rickshaw and people to walk through. The streets were boardered by walls on either side with doorways every so often leading to peoples homes. In this small street we were forced to get very intimate with the process.

I am not sure why it had so much significance to me but at this point I had to ride through a stream of cow blood that was running out of on of these poor animals. The worst was watching one cow be wrestled to the ground. There were cows that had already been slaughtered about 20 feet away so the cow must have known what was coming. There were about 40 people standing around watching so there was no way to get by. The cow was tied up around his neck and was kicking to keep the people off of him. It was quite dangerous in those tight of quarters. They eventually got some rope around the cows legs and then eight guys worked really hard to get this cow on the ground. The cow fought amaizingly well. The guys where pushing it over and twisting the cow's head by the horns to force it to the ground. It finally made it to the ground and I used the oportunity to sneak by.

Once we were back in Dhaka, cows were mostly in the skinning stage and they were everywhere. The main streets were lined with spectators, blood and cows. Animal sacrifice seems so dated. I eat meat and I realize that an animal had to die for it. I know millions of animals die every day to feed the human population of this earth. It is just the unnecessary cruelty that bothers me. Why not kill the animal quickly and painlessly and then let it bleed? I am not sure how I feel about the next aspect.

The owners of the cows are expected to give away a good portion of the meat to those in need. On the surface I think, yeah that is cool. In reality it is a bit more complicated. Begging is a profession here in Bangladesh. Women rent babies and then walk through the major intersections where traffic is stopped. Anyone with any kind of physical deformity will draw attention to it. Holding clubbed hands up to the window of your car. Part of the culture here is this attitude of giving to those in need but it has created a huge problem. It is said that the beggars can make a really good amount of money but then they have to give most of it to these pimps (I can't think of a more appropriate word) that bring them to town from the villages. Pretty crazy aspects of the culture here. Glad that Eid is over!

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