Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Holidays and Holy Days

DoryDogsMA.JPG, originally uploaded by Miloflamingo.
I adore my kids, really I do, but I have to admit to a sigh of relief when they are off doing whatever it is that young people do with their lives these days. My daughter came home from the US for a two week break in Egypt. It wasn't the best holiday for her. First Northwest/KLM decided to make life difficult on her flight home by cancelling her booking on the day she was to fly (She only found out about it at the airport) and then not wanting to board her the day they told her that she could fly after the first abortive attempt. Then when she came home, it became obvious that she REALLY wasn't well, so more time was spent with doctors and labs for various tests. The outcome was an amoeba infestation. A couple of boxes of medication later she was ready to fly back to launch herself into the spring semester.

Life is back to the dogs sleeping on the sofa while I listen to music on my computer (I LOVE my iPod) after a 2 hour ride in the rain. Well, the rain isn't so normal, but it was wonderful to get out and canter down the country roads with friends even if we were getting rather wet.

Day after tomorrow is the first day of Eid el Adha, the Greater Feast, probably the most important Muslim holiday. The haj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca, takes place during this period and Muslims who do not travel celebrate this feast at home. It's a bit problematic for foreigners and/or vegetarians since the feast celebrates the encounter of Abraham with the angel who put a sheep in the place of his son as he was preparing to sacrifice his son to God. Tomorrow and the next day many sheep, goats and cattle will be slaughtered in the memory of this event. Traditionally, the animal is brought to the home, fed and cared for carefully and introduced to the children for whom it will give its life. As the sheep was taken in place of Abraham's son, these animals are symbolic of man's obedience to God's will.

I have to admit that I do not personally sacrifice an animal on the feast. I do contribute to a pool with my neighbours to purchase a cow whose meat will be distributed to the locals and our workers. The traditional dispersal of the meat of the sacrificed animal is that one third is to go to the poor (often by taking the meat to a local mosque for distribution), one third is to go to friends, and one third to go to the family. My husband had cholesterol problems and we didn't eat red meat, so our sacrifice went entirely to our staff and the poor.

I've gone through years of actually having a sheep slaughtered in the garage at home. I don't really feel all that comfortable with it and I'm fairly certain that the experience had a lot to do with my daughter becoming vegetarian at the age of twelve. I haven't sacrificed an animal in years. I don't think that I ever will again. I respect the tradition, but I'll stick to sacrificing carrots. I'm sure that God will understand.


Anonymous said...

Hey Maryanne!

I think that it's far more important to believe in the root of a
tradition than just simply following what everyone else does because
it's what you've always done. Of course, most people just walk through
the motions without ever understanding why they're doing these things.
It's really cool that you know the story behind Eid and that you follow
it in your own way.

It's amazing how a little things and a lot of music can make such a
huge difference. I don't yet have Björk's Post album on my iPod, but
the line "your headphones saved my life" keep running through my head
while I'm on this adventure!

It's a real bummer that your daughter had such a hard time on the trip. I certainly can't think of a time I've had that many things turn for the worst while travelling. Best of luck to her in her studies!


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