TO BE CELEBRATED BY 1,5 BILLION MUSLIMS, EID EL-ADHA BEGINS ON 21 AUGUST Eid el-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), one of the two most important festivals in Islam together with Eid el-Fitr, begins on Tuesday, 21 August. Besides its practical and spiritual meaning, the four-day festival also marks the end of holy Hajj pilgrimage, which is among the five pillars of Islam.

After casting seven stones to symbols of Satan on the 10th day of Dhu'l-Hijjah (last month of Islamic lunar calendar, also the beginning of Eid el-Adha), almost two million hajis (pilgrims) coming to Mecca from all over the world, will head to Mina and sacrifice animals to Allah, in order to get closer to faith of Abraham, who was ready to sacrifice his son in the name of Allah.

The word "kurban" in Arabic means "approaching Allah" and "sacrificed animal (to Allah)". As told in Quran, while Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Ismail to fulfil Allah’s will, Allah, who saw that Abraham had passed the faith test, sent him a ram with the angel Gabriel and told Abraham to sacrifice the ram instead. According to Islam, one of the meanings of Eid el-Adha is to remember Abraham’s intent to follow God’s will.

Although the traditions that define Eid el-Edha, which will be celebrated by 1,5 billion Muslims around the world, differ, the celebration and belief practices are essentially the same. Muslims, who gather in mosques early in the morning to perform Eid prayer, would celebrate one another at the mosque courtyard after the prayer. The breakfast made at home would be followed by the celebration of the Eid between family members, and gifts or money given to children. One-third of the animal that is sacrificed with a ceremony would be given to those who are in need, one-third would be distributed to relatives and friends, while the last one-third would be the owner’s.

In the rest of the festival, friends, relatives and elderly people would be visited, in line with the spirit of the Eid el-Edha that brings people together. Eid el-Adha, which will be celebrated between 21-24 August, is public holiday in most of the countries where Muslims constitute the majority of the population.

In Turkey, the nine-day public holiday that also includes Eid el-Adha will start after working hours on Friday, 17 August and end on Sunday, 26 August.