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.