Warning: This post contains information about animal sacrifice. Please preview before sharing with your class.
After a mammoth 17 hour journey by local bus, private car (huge thanks to Wahyu, Ayu & Nanda) and finally 3 airplanes, and with very little sleep, I have finally returned to Ternate! Flying in past Gamalama, looking over Ternate and neighbouring Halmahera, it was such a lovely feeling recognising everything from the air. Visiting new places is definitely exciting but revisiting favourite places is even more exciting. First impressions and experiences just scrape the surface however revisiting gives me the chance to delve deeper and notice things I missed on the first visit. The big difference between being a traveller and a tourist.
I arrived into the new Sultan Babullah Airport which is very flash and while waiting for my suitcase to hit the conveyer belt, saw Ical through the glass window. I turned on my phone and recieved a message from Bu Esty to say she was waiting outside too! What a lovely welcome back to Ternate. We greeted each other like sisters, giving each other a huge hug, Ical grabbed my right hand and respectfully held it to his forehead which was very touching and later when I ran into Bapak, I got another different yet equally warm greeting when he shook my hand firmly yet gently while looking absolutely delighted to see me again. In Indonesia, it is totally inappropriate for men and women to show any affection towards each other in public, even if they are husband and wife, however luckily it is ok for women to greet other affectionately, so our big hug at the airport would have amazed people more for the fact that Bu Esty is Indonesian and I obviously am not! I bet they were all dying of curiosity!!
As we were driving off, a motorbike appeared next to us and Safa waved us down. Safa is one of Bu Esty’s wonderful neighbours who very kindly invited me to dinner when I was here last to celebrate Ramadan with her family by breaking the daily fast. I was so touched that Safa had also come to meet me at the airport. She jumped off the motorbike and then just as quickly jumped into the front seat of our car! She told us that the fellow who had given her a lift to the airport didn’t believe her when she said she was meeting a friend! His eyes must have fallen out of his head when he saw that her friend is a ‘bule’ (white fella/westerner)! As we all drove off together, Ical rode off on his bike to meet us at home.
Bu Esty is so honored that I tweaked my dates to arrive slightly earlier so I could join them for this second Lebaran, also known as the Greater Eid (Idul Fitri is known as the Lesser Eid). Now that I have done some reading, I actually wish I had arrived here earlier because the lead up to Idul Adha would have helped me prepare for what I was in for yesterday as well as giving me a more complete understanding.
Bu Esty explained in the car that Idul Adha is one of the very important days in the Muslim calendar. It centers on the prophet Ibrahim, an important figure in not only Islam, but also Christianity and Judaism.
Abraham plays a role in three world religions: in Judaism, as the founder of the special relationship between the Jewish people and God; for Christians, his faith made him the prototype of all believers; and for Mohammad, the prophet of Islam, Abraham’s belief separated “Islam”, from the Jewish Torah.
Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham
Idul Adha is an important religious festival celebrated by Muslims worldwide to not only honour Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his first born son but also his son’s willingness to be sacrificed which demonstrated their faith in Allah. Their faith was rewarded when Allah replaced Ismael with a ram at the very last moment.
This story is also found in the Torah and in the Bible and in both it is known as ‘The Binding of Isaac’. As an article in Jakarta Post states, Jews may not pray for Jesus and Christians don’t pray for Mohammed, however they all revere Abraham/Ibrahim. Hence the term ‘Abrahamic religions’.
Abrahamic religions (also Abrahamism) are faiths of Middle Eastern origin, tracing their common origin to Abraham.
As of the early twenty-first century, it was estimated that 54% of the world’s population (3.8 billion people) considered themselves adherents of the Abrahamic religions, about 30% of other religions, and 16% of no organized religion.The largest Abrahamic religions in chronological order of founding are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; the Bahá’í Faith is sometimes listed as well.
source: wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abrahamic_religions
I find it fascinating that all three major world religions trace their roots back to Abraham and that the Koran, the Torah & the Bible all include this event!
Throughout Indonesia, yesterday thousands and thousands of cows and goats were ‘sacrificed’ for Idul Adha. In Ternate though, it wasn’t the western concept of a sacrifice, it was more like a huge butchers shop set up under tents outside Mosques and everyone worked together to cut up all the meat which was then weighed and then packaged to distribute to poor families.
Men did the slaughtering and cutting up & weighing of the meat while the women did the packaging. I was thankful I didn’t have to witness anything too graphic and my childhood experiences of living on a farm helped me watch the process philosophically. The saddest part of it for me was seeing cows and goats tethered up nearby.
For most westerners, the process of slaughtering animals happens behind closed doors and therefore most are shielded from the process, whereas in Indonesia everyone is familiar with every aspect of butchery. The following quote briefly outlines the Koran’s policy on slaughtering animals:
The Sacred Law (Shariah) of Islam declares that dead animals are unlawful (haram). Certain animals that are harmful to the wellbeing of humans are also prohibited, such as: pigs, dogs, cats and wild animals. Animals that are lawful (halal) are also subjected to certain rules & regulations, which ensures that the blood and other impure elements are removed as much as possible and that the slaughter is done in a way that is least painful and most merciful to the animal. The ritual nature of the slaughtering also serves as a reminder to humans of the tremendousness of the gift of life, and the blessing of food in general and meat in particular.
Here in Ternate, the wealthy buy cows and goats which are then taken to their mosque where an Imam and other religious officials oversee both the slaughtering and the distribution of the meat to the poorer families who rarely can afford red meat. Their diet would mainly consist of vegetables with tofu and tempeh. (reference) Before Idul Adha, the poor families applied to their mosque for a parcel of meat and then yesterday they turned up and waited patiently for it to be distributed by mosque officials.
In other Muslim areas, I have read that the meat is divided in 3 parts; 1/3 of the meat going to the family who provided it, 1/3 to friends and neighbours and the final 1/3 to the poor and needy however here on Ternate, the entire animal is distributed to the poor and needy. Yesterday I was surprised when a lady turned up and gave us a parcel of meat. Apparently this was done in appreciation of Bu Esty’s family’s generosity. Here is Iba cutting up the meat for tonights dinner.
Throughout the day and evening friends and family turned up to chat and snack on the various delicious Lebaran treats available in colourful decorative containers set up on the coffee tables.
I recognised many of the people who turned up and it was brilliant catching up with them again and they each warmly greeted me too! We sat together in the formal sitting room. As soon as they arrived Bu Esty raced around to provide them each with a drinking glass and a bottle of cola which was then opened and drunk at room temperature. She then put out plates of a colourful looking layer cake which together with the big containers of snacks were munched on while we chatted. They explained that they were visiting friends to catch up for Idul Adha. After about an hour, they all stood up to leave however before they could leave, the cameras & phones were whipped out to take photos of us all together. Again goodbyes were said and they all went to the door where we discovered that it was raining! So back they went to the chairs and sat down to resume the chatting while waiting for the rain to finish. However I was very tired and also very hungry, so I excused myself to have dinner and then disappeared upstairs to collapse into bed where I slept solidly till 6am the following morning. What a blissful way to end my first day/night back here in Ternate!