On September 13, when animal sacrifices at the Eid al-Adha festival in Bangladesh mixed with sudden rains, the streets of Dhaka literally ran red with blood.
Local authorities had designated 1,000 locations around the city where people could carry out the animal sacrifice portion of this annual Muslim festival, reported the Dhaka Tribune.
However, those locations proved to be insufficient as scores of festivalgoers began sacrificing animals at unsanctioned locations right in the streets throughout the city.
Then, when the rains came down and Dhaka’s notoriously subpar drainage systems couldn’t handle the burden, bloody water of a shockingly deep red began to run through the streets, leaving Eid al-Adha festivalgoers to simply walk through it.
Images of this aftermath quickly hit social media and reignited old criticisms of the animal sacrifice traditions (usually involving goats, cows, sheep, or camels) practiced at Eid al-Adha throughout the Muslim world each year.
As visceral as the outrage is and as unusually macabre as the scenes in Dhaka are, the animal sacrifices carried out at Eid al-Adha are certainly nothing new. This “Festival of Sacrifice,” one of the two holiest Muslim holidays each year, has long been in place to honor Ibrahim (Abraham in Christian and Jewish traditions), who proved his willingness to sacrifice his own son at God’s command.
Celebration of that devotion involves mass prayer, feeding the poor, and, again, animal sacrifice.
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Indonesian Muslim students carry torches as they parade on the streets ahead of Eid al-Adha on September 24, 2015 in Surabaya, Indonesia.Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images
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Indonesian Muslims perform Eid al-Adha prayer at Al-Akbar Mosque on October 5, 2014 in Surabaya, Indonesia.Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images
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Pakistani men use a crane to lift a young bull from the roof of a building in preparation for Eid al-Adha in Karachi on September 4, 2016.RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images
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Indian Muslims offer prayers on Eid al-Adha at the Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi on January 11, 2006. MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images
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A Palestinian boy makes hand prints on the walls of his home from the blood of a just-slaughtered sheep at the start of Eid al-Adha in al-Azza refugee camp on December 19, 2007 in Bethlehem in the West Bank.
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Kyrgyz Muslims pray on the first day of Eid al-Adha in Moscow on October 15, 2013.DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images
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An Afghan trader waits for customers early in the morning at a livestock market ahead of Eid al-Adha in Kabul on October 2, 2014.SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
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Pakistani Muslims slaughter a camel on the second day of Eid al-Adha in Karachi on September 14, 2016.RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images
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Palestinian children play with plastic weapons during the second day of Eid al-Adha in Gaza City on October 16, 2013.MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images
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A Iranian man walks with a sheep he bought at a market in Tehran on September 12, 2016, as Muslims mark the first day of Eid al-Adha.STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images
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People attend prayer outside the National Mosque during Eid-al-Adha on October 6, 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.Allison Joyce/Getty Images
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A man sits on the back of a motorcycle holding onto a sheep, bought at a market to be taken and sacrificed for Eid al-Adha, in the Pakistani city of Lahore on October 5, 2014.Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images
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A goat vendor waits for customers as goats are offered for sale for Eid al-Adha near the Jama Masjid on October 27, 2012 in New Delhi, India.Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
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Indian Muslims offer prayers on Eid al-Adha at the Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi on January 11, 2006.Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images
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A Yemeni boy lifts up a goat at a livestock market in Sanaa on October 2, 2014, two days ahead of Eid al-Adha.MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images
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Indian Muslims offer prayers on Eid al-Adha at the Kharudin Mosque in Amritsar on September 13, 2016.NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images
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Indonesian boys watch as men butcher animals slaughtered at a mosque during Eid al-Adha on October 15, 2013 in Jakarta, Indonesia.Ed Wray/Getty Images
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An Afghan vendor waits for customers at a cattle market set up for the upcoming Eid al-Adha festival, on the outskirts of Jalalabad on September 10, 2016.NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/Getty Images
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Bangladeshi Muslims attend Eid al-Adha prayers at Baitul Mukarrom National Mosque in Dhaka on September 13, 2016.-/AFP/Getty Images
Muslim Animal Sacrifice Traditions Draw Criticism After Incident In Bangladesh
While it is of course virtually impossible to keep a reliable accounting of all this animal sacrifice, one oft cited 2010 report out of Pakistan claims that, each year in that country alone, 7.5 million animals are sacrificed at a cost of $3 billion.
While the animals sacrificed at Eid al-Adha, in large part, go toward feeding the poor as a way of promoting social harmony, the controversial side of this practice certainly took on a far darker tone than usual this year on the streets of Dhaka.