While in Pakistani Kashmir, Participating in Eid al-Adha Celebrations was an Incredible Experience

After more than a week in Lahore, Islamabad, and Peshawar, it was finally time for the “cherry on the sunday” of my Pakistani trip: Going up north to the Pakistani Kashmir in the Himalaya Mountains. My Destination: Hunza Valley, one of the jewels of Pakistan, where stands some of the highest mountains of the world. For the occasion, I had to hop on a local government bus NATCO (Northern Areas Transport Company) for a 22 hours journey. I’ve done many long public transport journeys around the world, but this one was especially painful as I was sitting in the back of the bus where it was just impossible to sleep for the bumpy roads, and the driver blasting music till 4 am didn’t help. Even a Flat Tire was at the Rendez-Vous.

Flat tire about 5 hours from Hunza

I was a little nervous for the journey since it coincided with Eid al-Adha holiday. I had been told that roads would be very crowdy and public transport would stop working for 4 days, leaving me stuck in the Himalayas, at the risk to loose my flight out of Pakistan. I still decided to venture north and find a solution while up there.

Little Kids dressed for the Occasion

For those who don’t know Eid al-Adha, it is one of the two most important Muslim celebration. As Wikipedia put’s it, “It honors the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son, as an act of obedience to God’s command”. It mainly consists of animal sacrifices and a massive feast throughout the Muslim world.  But in Hunza, the interesting part is that they do it in a more communal way and share all the meat equally to all the families of the village, as well as everybody present, even foreigners.

Eid al-Adha Sacrifices in the Village

I was the only foreigner there with my Japanese friend, and after an amazing day sipping tea with the locals, people watching around, donating candies to kids and eating lunch at a friendly man’s house, the chief of the village obligated us to bring back a bag full of fresh meat to cook back at the hotel. At least 1 kg of goat, beef, and sheep that had been slaughtered in front of us. The slaughter was the hard part. For an animal lover like me, it’s not easy to see them die in front of my eyes, but it is their culture and beliefs, and I had to respect that.

So back at the hotel, I requested access to the kitchen and took all the ingredients I could find to cook a meal for others to join and to try out. I prepared a Canadian meal called “Achie” which my grandmom would make when I was a kid. Seems like it was enjoyed by all.

Cooking a Canadian meal to give back a piece of my culture to Local Hunza People

I had an incredible experience during Eid, testified the generosity of the locals of Hunza and their welcome was priceless!

The Result. My version of “Achie”

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