SENEGAL — In Kaolack, one Muslim community is trying to push back against the rising commercialism of one of its most important religious holidays to preserve its cultural significance for future generations.
“Tabaski is so stressful now, the men of the home have to pay for the lamb, and the new clothes for the family, and if he has multiple wives forget about it.”— Pape Mor Ba
Tabaski is how many Muslims across West Africa celebrate Eid al-Adha, one of Islam’s two annual worldwide celebrations. Every year tailors and livestock sellers throughout the region work around the clock to meet the needs of local families preparing for the holiday.
But for some, the costs that come with these annual preparations can be too much. Pape Mor Ba, a 26 year old Senegalese customer service representative at Orange said for him, Tabaski has become more about how much families spend and less about religion, “Tabaski is so stressful now, the men of the home have to pay for the lamb, and the new clothes for the family, and if he has multiple wives, forget about it.”
Just one lamb can cost a family upward of $150 USD and newly tailored clothes for the weekend long celebration can cost close to $80. But Amina Seck, a local tailor said maintaining traditions and being with family is for him, ‘priceless’.
One of the many traditions families in Kaolack said they hope to share with their youngest members is Beussou Balanté akh. On this day, neighbors visit with one another and ask forgiveness if they have done anything harmful or even, disagreeable over the past year as a way to strengthen relationships among families within the community.
Even with the costs and stress that go into preparing for the Tabaski holiday, people in Kaolack said they will continue to gather to celebrate with their families and neighbors. Below you’ll find more photos showing just some of what makes Tabaski one of West Africa’s most significant religious and cultural events each year.
For even more photos from Kaolack and this year’s Tabaski celebrations, visit Africa Rizing on Facebook.