Last week, many Indonesians celebrated Eid al-Adha. The holiday is a feast to honor the Muslim prophet Ibrahim, who was willing to sacrifice his first-born son, Ismail, to Allah. (Sound familiar, Christians? In the Old Testament, Abraham was prepared to offer his son, Ishmael, to the Christian God.) Here in Indonesia, Muslims celebrate this holiday by making an animal sacrifice.
Some of my youngest students came to school afterward with tales and reenactments of goat slaughter, while my adult students explained the finer points. Richer families will sacrifice a cow, but many people use goats. Regardless of what animal it is, the meat should be shared among family and friends, with a portion of it given as a charity to somebody who is in need of help.
Because Islam is the main religion in Indonesia, Eid al-Adha is a national holiday, and we all got the day off work. As Josh and I walked home from work the night before, it seemed the celebrations had already begun: what we initially thought was just the nightly call to prayer being broadcast from a nearby mosque stretched on and on in a low rhythmic chant that lasted most of the evening.
Tuesday was the day of the celebration. Though Josh and I did not have any festivities to join, we did want to make the most of our day off. After making sure the mall would be open, we headed to TerasKota for a nice afternoon meal. With Josh craving fish, me craving some heavy carbs, and both of us wanting to splurge on something new, we decided on the Italian restaurant in the mall.
With a shiny black modern interior, the restaurant looked like the kind of sophisticated restaurant you might find in the wealthy suburbs of an American city. What really caught my eye, however, was the colorful dessert case–we had definitely come to the right place!
Ordering was a difficult affair because the menu was long and everything sounded delicious, but finally we made our decisions. An overflowing bread basket was brought to our table, and my pumpkin soup arrived a few minutes later.
We played a round of twenty questions, and our food was brought out just as Josh guessed the answer (“olive”). His cheese-filled salmon and my creamy gnocchi were fantastic, and it was the kind of meal you would describe with pretentious words like “divine” and “magnificent.”
As if we hadn’t already indulged, we’d saved just enough room in our expanding bellies that when asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu, we simply couldn’t refuse. Josh immediately chose the crème brûlée, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off the dessert case and opted for one of the chocolate macarons that was so beautifully displayed.
All in all, it was a lovely day. Though we didn’t participate in the holiday itself, it was very interesting to learn more about the culture and religion here as we pieced together what this special day means to the people here. And of course, it was nice to have a day off work and a chance to treat ourselves to a nice meal!
I’m hoping all of my Muslim friends and readers experienced a fulfilling Eid al-Adha this year.