Sunday, November 14, 2010

Silence of the Lambs...and the Value of Communication

Let me set this one up for you. It is Thursday.  Day before school holidays.  Day before Eid Adha and the hajj to Mecca begins. A few days before the sacrifices begin.  We have a lovely day at school, with a simulation of the Pilgrimage performed by my kids (they circle the kabah and walk between the mountains, drink from the zamzam well). After an afternoon of Eid art (glittery fireworks and cotton ball sheep) I decide to take the kids out for a play before going home.  We can't go to our garden as they are putting in the playground.  I decided to go to the soccer pitch. We begin our game, and as the children are playing, I finally notice the large group of higher ups from the school- the director, the owner, the accountant, all looking at something.  I figured it was construction related (which is what this group is usually sorting out when I look out my window!) I didn't think anything of it, until the kids all stopped playing all at the same time, to stare in that direction.  "Look mees! Look mees!" I look, and see something black laying on the floor, about 7 metres away from us, in the school yard.  I thought at first it was someone hurt, so I just said oh lets go inside.  Then I looked a little closer and saw it was a cow laying on the ground...with its throat slit and blood everywhere!!! When I finally figured it out, the kids had seen it all- some had even seen the sacrifice actually happen- the knife to throat, blood spurting...well, I ran, dragging the kids with me, absolutely traumatised at what I had seen.  Once we got inside, the kids were showing me what the cow looked like- its neck was twisted and its tongue was hanging out and eyes bulging.  We had a little talk about the meaning of the sacrifice (see below!) and what a dead animal looks like.  They were not upset...I was!  I sent the kids home, and I returned to see the cow.  By that time the butcher had already done his work, and the meat was being given to the matrons and maids at the school.  Afterwards, I went to the director and was so embarrassed about the kids seeing a slaughter in the playground...she laughed and laughed and said they have all seen it before, and will all see it this week!  So, the moral of the story, I am running away to Cyprus so as to avoid the slaughter...and once in a while communicating to your staff about the slaughtering of cows (2 sheep were to follow!) in the playground is sometimes a useful thing! 
Cows being delivered for the sacrifice (seriously.  There are a tonne of animals on the road for tomorrow!)
Its been a while, but lets just jump right in to the slaughtering that is going to happen this week...Its Eid Adha, the holiday that also marks the pilgrimage to Mecca for millions of Muslims.  Here is a little religion lesson.  Ibrahim was going to sacrifice his son to God, and God stopped him at the last moment and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead, to show that he knew Ibrahim was serious about sacrificing his son.  On the spot where he was going to do the sacrifice, God ordered Ibrahim to build a temple.  This temple is the kabah, the black box that Muslims circle 7 times at Mecca (forgive me if this is not quite correct, this is the children's version that I learned at school on Thursday). So people are now on their pilgrimage, but people who are at home celebrate Eid.  This is when people buy a sheep, goat, or if you are of high status, a cow and sacrifice it in representation of Ibrahim's sacrifice.  The whole point is to give 1/3 of the meat to people less fortunate- your doorman, the maids and matrons and security guards, 1/3 to your family and 1/3 is kept by you.  This happens on Tuesday (thankfully I will be in Cyprus then!) and apparently there is blood throughout the streets...

Sheep on the side of the road, waiting for families to come buy them