My school is on a 2 week break right now for a holiday called Eid al-Adha. I’m certainly not an expert on this holiday, but I will explain it to the best of my knowledge.
Eid al-Adha is the 2nd most important Islamic holiday, after Ramadan. Eid al-Adha literally means “Feast of the Sacrifice”, and the purpose of it is to remember Abraham’s sacrifice. The story is pretty much the same as the Christian story, but it does differ slightly. In Islam, they believe that God asked Abraham (they spell/pronounce it like ‘Ibrahim’) to sacrifice his son Ishmael (in Christianity it is believed that Isaac was to be sacrificed, not Ishmael) as a test of obedience. Then as Ibrahim was going to kill his son, an angel appeared and told him not to do it, and that an animal would be sacrificed instead.
For Eid al-Adha, Muslims remember the sacrifice of Ibrahim by slaughtering an animal, usually a goat or lamb. They get up really early on Eid day and go to the mosque for prayer. I remember waking up on the morning of Eid around 6:30 am and hearing a lot of noise, so much in fact that I had to get up and shut my windows. I don’t know how to explain the noise, but it almost sounds like a protest or chanting. I think it’s from everyone in the city praying at the same time, so it’s a lot louder when they’re all doing it at once. It’s the same loudness every Friday (the Islamic holy day) around noon, so I was already used to it. After they go to the mosque, they slaughter the animal, then divide it into three parts and keep one-third for their family, give one-third to friends and neighbors, and give one-third to the poor.
There are a lot of families from India that also live at the school, and most of them are Muslim, so they celebrate Eid. A couple days before Eid, I walked outside and there were 4 goats, probably one for each family. I’m really glad that I didn’t hear them get slaughtered.
I think Eid lasts just for a day, but the city is pretty much shut down for at least a week. A nearby grocery store that I often use has been closed for at least a week now, and I don’t know when it will re-open. I had to make sure I sent money home through the bank before the holiday, because I knew the bank would be closing. It seems strange that an entire city can shut down for a week, and I hear everything shuts down for an entire month during Ramadan!
Most places are closed for one week, but the school is closed for two weeks, so I have one more week left until I have to go back to work. I’ve pretty much done nothing during break except stare at Pinterest… sorry for the overload if any of you follow me on Pinterest.
Learning about the culture here has been such an interesting and weird experience… but learning about other peoples’ way of life is the point of traveling, isn’t it?