Tabaski is the name that the faithful use for the West African Islamic religious festival of Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Adha is the feast of sacrifice celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God, before God stopped Abraham’s hand and replaced his son with a ram.
The holy day does not fall on the same day every year but is determined by Islamic religious calendar, which is linked to the phases of the moon. This means that the date varies from year to year and you only are certain of the date after astronomical study by Islamic religious leaders.
Eid al-Adha is a festival of togetherness and sharing. Each family kills a sheep according to Muslim rites, by cutting the throat and draining the blood, prepares and offers it to relatives, friends, neighbours and anyone who comes to visit.
Tabaski is especially important in Dakar. About a week before the holiday, every square, every street and every beach is transformed into a huge market where shepherds from the heartland of Senegal come to sell their sheep. The days of buying and selling end with a day prayer and sacrifice, and the climax of the feast is when the fathers of families enter the Mosque and sacrifice the ram. The chaos, the colours, the voices, the bleating, the bustle of the market days of the previous days and nights give way to a sudden and sacred silence.