Eid Mubarak: Photographing an ancient tradition

Eid Mubarak — I’m posting this on the evening of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. For my internship at ColumbiaFAVS, I joined a Muslim family as they drove to Tebbetts, Mo., to perform the traditional sacrifice of a goat. You can read more about the theological tradition here.

Here’s the final audio postcard that aired on KBIA.

I had a great time with this family. They were kind, helpful, and eager to share this part of their life with me. What was sad to me was when I first met the group’s uncle, he had “a few questions” for me. Mainly, he wanted to make sure that what I was doing would not paint them in a bad light. Apparently he had been contacted before by others who had intentions to slander him, this tradition, and Islam. It bothered me that there are people out there who would try and to that to such a kind man.

The slaughter itself didn’t really phase me. My dad and sister are both veterinarians, and I have two uncles and a cousin who are doctors. Medical topics and imagery — blood and innards, mainly — are things I’ve grown up around, and often heard at more Thanksgiving dinners than most people.

The 76-year-old farmer who I met was an interesting character as well. He allows the family to buy his goats and come to his land to perform this ritual every year. When I first stepped out of the car, he says, “What the hell are you doing here? You’re about as African as a Rhode Island politician.” Everybody laughed. It was great to see such a cross-cultural, cross-generational friendship.

I was proud of the set of photos that came from this afternoon. You can see some of them below, including a few that did not appear in the ColumbiaFAVS gallery.

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