Sunday, November 14, 2010
Eid Al Adha And The Hajj
It's that time of the year again . The time for the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca by those lucky few Muslims that are chosen through their country's lottery to make the Hajj . Each country has a certain limit of people in which they are allowed to send to Saudia Arabia to make the Hajj .There are millions that want to make their obligatory pilgrimage ,if they are physically capable, or are lucky enough to be able to afford it .But not all are chosen .Some wait years for this opportunity , saving and planning for the time when they will be chosen.
During the Hajj, the Eid Al Adha is celebrated . That is the day that Muslims believe that Abraham , or Ibrahim as the Muslims call him, was asked to sacrifice his son to to show his obedience to Allah's (God) command . Instead , Allah gave Ibrahim a ram to sacrifice in the place of his son once Allah saw his willingness to submit to His Will .Most Muslims will sacrifice a animal on the day of Eid Al Adha if they are able, to commemorate this act of Ibrahim's submission to Allah's Will .Usually it will be a sheep.
Here in Libya it can become quit costly , with the average sheep costing anywhere from 350 Libyan Dinars up to 600 .Imagine this .... some families have , oh ,let's say as many as 8 sons . The sons are all married , which means they have to sacrifice a sheep for their individual family .So , that will be 8 sheep .Then the parents need a sheep for themselves as well . Now we have 9 sheep being slaughtered .Of course while all this killing is happening , people work up an appetite , so they might have a special sheep just to Bar BBQ and eat while they butcher the 1st 9 sheep .So , they now have 10 sheep to kill , but wait , hold on , if they eat one as they butcher and chop up the other 9 to make various other dishes like stuffed stomach , or intestines (that would be your basic sausage) , or other tasty tid bits that are cooked in their own juices until they fall to pieces and are eaten with fresh hot french bread, or made into other mouth watering dishes , what will there be left to give in charity ? Ok , we need one one sheep for that purpose, also to make into dried sheep jerky .That makes a total of 11 sheep. Add that all up and you see how expensive it can become.
You might think that is a bit excessive, a waste , but not really . The skins will be dried and scraped , made into throw rugs or used to make pillows . The heads will be chard and scraped of all hair so that they may be cooked in a typical Libyan sauce as a delicacy .The lower legs will make fantastic meaty bones for a scrumptious dish of home made beans . Anything that remains will probably be made into dried sheep jerky . That is used as a bacon substitute or in another special Libyan dish that only taste good if it is made with this "gahdeed" .A large portion of the sheep is to be given to those in need as a charity.
After reading all this , you can imagine what happens typically on the 1st day of the Eid ( it is a 3 day affair).... a whole lot of work ! Chopping , slicing , dicing , washing , scrubbing, cutting ,the cleaning of this and that ,and last but not least, THE COOKING !!!!! By the end of the day , after all the work is finished , the food eaten , dishes washed , and the meat stored away , baths taken , clean clothes replacing bloody ones, everyone collapses from sheer exhaustion !
The next 2 days , everyone visits each other to brag on all the work they did the day before.How exhausted they are.They can hardly move because all their muscles are sore from all that work .They feast some more as they go from house to house, on sweets which are made days before ( or as in my case ... bought) , drinking tiny dimi tasse cups of Arabic coffee or hyper sweet tea that is so strong it is guaranteed to grow hair on your chest .Many times you will be served a soft drink along with chocolates 1st , before the coffee or tea . A good time is had by all .This is what will happen on Tuesday , Wednesday , and Thursday of this week here in Libya . Other country's have different customs , but the sacrifice is a mandatory thing , if at all possible .
I used to HATE this Eid . I would dread it's coming like the bubonic plague ! The men and the children would be jumping up and down for joy at the prospect of all these delicacies to come , but not me .I KNEW WHO HAD TO DO ALL THAT COOKING ......... ME ! Then when my daughters grew older , they were "blessed" to help me , along with all my sister in laws and their daughters .Now our family's are all grown , married with children of their own , scattered to the 4 winds around the world making their own traditions .
These last several years we have spent the day with our son and his family .It is nice to be the mother in law .I get to play with the babies ,piddle around LOOKING BUSY, while really doing nothing much .Life is good .I am looking forward to the Eid this year .I will cook several dishes ahead of time to take with us to my daughter in law so she doesn't have to spend the entire day in the kitchen .It's a day for all to enjoy , not just the men and children .
Somewhere in the middle of all this mania over food , we have to stop and remember the WHY of this holiday. To give thanks to God for blessing us with such bounty , for the fellowship of family, and to remember we are here on earth to serve God .
Painting " Funny Fun Family Sheep" by Diane Whitehead