A few weeks ago we were invited to attend an Idul Adha event in the (mostly Javanese Muslim) village of Marang – about 20km from here. We rode our little Yamaha Jupiter to the village, bouncing along very slowly on the broken sandy ‘main road’ into Marang. The road, like most roads other than the Trans-Kalimantan Highway, was bitumen once (perhaps a few hundred years ago?!) but is now largely broken and potholey, with a narrow smooth sandy strip along the edge where motorbikes can get through.
Idul Adha (or Eid al-Adha in Arabic) honours Abraham’s submission to God’s demand that he sacrifice his son Ishmael. God was satisfied with Abraham’s submission, and let him sacrifice a lamb in place of the (no doubt relieved) Ishmael. I’ve had the first verse of Dylan’s Highway 61 going round in my head all month!*
The event is commemorated amongst Muslim communities world wide, with each year around 100 million animals (sheep, goats, cattle, camels) sacrificed and shared with family, friends, neighbours and the poor. It’s a feast day, and for many people in this area, it’s perhaps the only time they get to eat meat (other than chicken) all year. Beef is expensive, around the same as Australian prices – but the cost of one beast is about about equivalent to the average annual income here!
Marang is a poor village, but there were two cattle and a goat slaughtered, in an open area beside the masjid. One of the cattle was a gift from the Mayor of Palangkaraya, and one was provided by YUM (the Yayasan Usaha Mulia, for who I am working). Apparently YUM donates an animal to a different village each year.
The event was more of a community butchery session than an overtly religious event. We arrived at 9am, and so we missed any ceremony that may have occurred before our arrival. We had read that Idul Adha is an occasion for everyone to wear their very best clothes, so we fronted up in the best that we have, batik and leather shoes etc, to find that most (but not all) of the villagers were very sensibly decked out in clothes suited to work in a slaughterhouse!
All of the adults participated in the work, with clear demarcation of responsibilities – but no-one seeming to be in charge, or giving orders. We see this repeatedly, how the logistics for events just seem to work with a whole community working seamlessly towards some common goal. The animals were very efficiently slaughtered, skinned, chopped up, cleaned and hung, with much good humour and laughter.
We, the only bules (westerners) in attendance, were made to feel very welcome, and a mat was laid out for us to rest in the shade of the masjid when the day started getting real hot. As always, the kids were very interested in us, wanting to ask questions and pose for photos. All on their best behaviour – perhaps because the adults of the village were all nearby, wielding large sharp knives?!
* Oh, God said to Abraham: “Kill me a son”
Abe said: “Man, you must be putting me on!”
God said: “No”
Abe said: “Why?”
God said: “You can do it if you try.
Or the next time you see me coming, you’d better run”
Abe said: “Where you want this killing done?”
God said: “Down on Highway 61″