Hari Raya Qurban **warning this post may get slightly graphic** Today was a Muslim holiday, known in Malaysia as Hari Raya Qurban, Hari Raya Aidaldha, or Hari Raya Hajji. For the holiday, just as we did for Aidilfitri, my host family and I went balik kampung, or back to my host dad's home village. This morning was the man event of the holiday, celebrated in a very interesting way. Two live animals were slaughtered as per tradition. I'm not going to get too graphic, but basically a man took a long blade and sliced the cow and the goats neck while the others said prayers in Arabic. Apparently this is a very humane way to kill livestock, but I admit I got a bit teary eyed when the animals took their last breaths. And there was a lot of blood. I owe my host dad an apology for not taking more pictures for him, I was busy trying to blink back tears, not faint and keep my breakfast down. Did I mention that I was a vegetarian for almost 2 years before I came to Malaysia..? On a lighter note, the meat from the animals is distributed among the family and also given to those who are less fortunate. Also on a lighter note, goat is delicious. Yes, I ate it. Yes, it was slightly weird to think about... So I tried not to. This practice of slaughtering the animals comes from a passage in the Qur'an. The prophet Abraham was told by Allah that he must sacrifice his only son. He is willing to do so, showing utmost devotion. When Allah saw this, he was very pleased in thw faith Abraham displayed and allowed him to offer livestock as a sacrifice instead. Actually, I knew this story before my host cousin told it to me. The same story is in the Old Testament of The Bible. It's really interesting to see where Christianity and Islam cross over. Besides the slaughtering, this weekend was a time for family. I had already met a good portion of the family during Aidilfitri and then saw them again at various open houses throughout the festive season. Family plays such a big role in life here; I wish the US would take a leaf out of Malaysia's book when it comes to family. In America, it seems like sometimes spending time with family is viewed as an obligation rather than a blessing. Time with loved ones is sadly limited, and it should be cherished accordingly. One of the best things for me was seeing how much my Malay has improved since I've been with this host family. If you read my Hari Raya Aidilfitri post, you may recall that a lot of my interactions were very sign language based. Fast forward two or so months to now, and things have definitely gotten better. This time when people asked me if I want to eat (a total of 16 times these past 2 days. I counted.), I was able to say dah makan (already ate) or tak lapar (not hungry) instead of the head shaking and poor English attempts I made last time. Yay for progress! I think I ate only 5 meals Friday and 2 meals Thursday (we arrived around 6 Thursday night). For the kampung, this is nothing. They are always trying to feed the orang putih! Although I am not Muslim, I respect this holiday and its customs. It might not have been my favorite holiday I've experienced during my stay here, but it's definitely something I probably won't have the opportunity to experience after I go back to the US. It was unlike anything else I've witnessed and although a bit gruesome, I feel blessed to be able to learn about the traditions of Islam firsthand while spending time amongst great family and even greater food.
, by Hannah