Rivers of Blood: The Aftermath of Eid al-Adha in Dhaka

Oct 5, 2017 3 comments

Early last month, a macabre image of a little girl posing in what appears to be a street flooded with blood-stained rainwater went viral over the internet. The picture was taken in Dhaka by Bangladeshi documentary photographer Nasif Imtiaz, after large-scale animal sacrifices conducted on Eid al-Adha, coupled with heavy rains and poor drainage turned some streets in the Bangladeshi capital into what the media has been calling “rivers of blood”.


Photo credit: Nasif Imtiaz

The annual Eid al-Adha celebrations, also known as the “Feast of the Sacrifice”, is the second biggest celebration of the year for Muslims after Eid al-Fitr. It commemorates the Quranic story where Ibrahim—known as Abraham in the Bible—was commanded by Allah to prove his obedience to God by sacrificing his own son. As Ibrahim put the knife to his son’s throat, Allah intervened and prevented the sacrifice, and a ram was sacrificed instead.

To thank Allah for sparing Ibrahim’s child from death, every year during Eid al-Adha, Muslim families ritually sacrifice goats, cows, and water buffaloes in staggering numbers. The meat from the sacrificed animal is then divided into three parts. According to custom, one part is given to the poor and the needy; another part is given to friends, relatives and neighbors; and the remaining part is retained by the family.

As per the BBC, nearly 100,000 livestock were sacrificed in Dhaka alone last year. Authorities set up hundreds of designated sacrifice spots in the run-up to the festival to make it easier to clean away blood and animal carcasses, but most residents ignored the special areas and made sacrifices on the streets or in their garages. A heavy downpour then flooded the streets, which is a common occurrence in Dhaka, creating these nightmarish scenes.


Photo credit: Edward Rees/Twitter


A street in Shantibagh area of Dhaka is seen submerged under water mixed with blood and wastes of sacrificial animal on Eid-ul-Azha following continuous rain on September 13, 2016. Photo credit: Prabir Das/thedailystar.net


A man walks through a submerged road in Dhaka’s Gandaria on Eid al-Adha in 2016. Photo credit: Mainoor Islam Manik.


A Bangladeshi girl walks on a street full with blood comes from animals sacrificed for the Eid al-Adha festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo credit: Suvra Kanti Das/ZUMA Press/Splash News


  1. I'm all for cultural sensitivity, but this is just barbaric. Hundreds of thousands of animals dying a painful terrified death.
    Whether you eat meat or not, surely you can't see the unregulated slaughter of this amount of animals as being in any way humane.
    This is without bringing up the effects of this kind of bloodletting on the health of the residents in that area, this must surely bring with it massively increased risk of disease....

  2. This is just nasty

  3. Ahh, religion - not quite what they taught us in Sunday School, now is it? Yeah, this is real religion. But at least it's not human blood, right?

    Almost sounds like Ezekiel 28:23 "For I will send into her pestilence, and blood into her streets; and the wounded shall be judged in the midst of her by the sword upon her on every side; and they shall know that I am the Lord."


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