Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Big Holiday, My First Eid al-Adha

After a few weeks of travel to both Marrakesh and Ouarzazate, I finally found myself back home in Tazarine. Since returning to country was a challenge, I feared that returning to my site would hold more of the same. I was pleasantly surprised when returning to Tazarine actually felt like returning home. Not the kind of home where everything is easy, there is a hot shower and a box of mac and cheese waiting for you (at least not yet), but a type of home nonetheless. After a few days of settling into apartment and finding a sense of rhythm, I began to make my visitation rounds to my friends and family in the community. This was great timing since I returned home just in time for the biggest holiday of the year known as Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Kabir (literally the Greater Holiday, as compared to the smaller holiday commemorating the end of Ramadan). 

To save you the trouble of google/wikipedia, Eid al-Adha is celebrated by Muslims worldwide to honor the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his young first-born son, Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of submission to God's command and his son's acceptance to being sacrificed, before God intervened to provide Abraham with a ram to sacrifice instead. The holidays is exactly two months and ten days after the end of Ramadan and the overlap/conflict with Christianity is relatively obvious. In Morocco, the day begins with new clothes for the kids and watching the King slaughter his sheep on TV. Unfortunately, I spent the morning with a family whose TV was not working so I actually missed this epic event. Youtube couldn't help me out with this one, but if you want to sheep slaughtered, there are some lovely videos for you to choose from!
The butcher has his way with the sheep

Getting back on track, after the King slaughters his sheep, the rest of the country is free to do the same. This may be done by the local butcher, a neighbor or your dad. Whoever feels the urge, I suppose? I learned that my supervisor at the local youth center slaughtered every sheep on his block - props. Well, I missed the initial slitting of the throat since I was having my 8th cup of tea and 13th cookie of the morning with a neighbor, but I returned just in time to see the sheep thrashing around in its' own blood. Soon it was hoisted from the closest tree, its' legs were broken and it was skinned. Next the belly was slit, the insides were separated and the butcher even blew air through the intestines. Hungry yet? The city vegetarian in me could have done without the slitting of throat and the breaking of the legs, BUT the girls who loves biology really got into seeing the anatomy and watching air and poop travel through the entire system. It was both totally crazy and awesome. Not to mention that my community got a kick out of watching me be fascinated/horrified with this process since I don't exactly hide my emotions well.

Me, a neighbor of the family and two sheep heads.
After the slaughter, my site mate and I started a day of extreme visitation, Moroccan style. We spent time with her host family's cousins, the supervisor of the dar chebab (youth center), my landlord's extended family, a student at the high school and enjoyed a few other stops along the way. Olivia ate endless amounts of barbecued sheep (cooked on a small indoor grill) while I had LOADS of cake, cookies and tea. My body pretty much wanted to die at the end of the day, but I didn't have to eat liver wrapped in fat- win some, lose some.

This actually felt grosser than it looks, guu!
Ironically, I ended up getting ridiculously sick that same evening. I am guessing it was something lingering in my system, but the day of eating nothing but sugar surely didn't help. Despite my impending physical downward spiral, I had a sense of feeling connected to my community and had successfully participated in the biggest holiday of the year without throwing up or fainting. And yes, that is considered a success in the Peace Corps.

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