Blogging seems to take on ebb and flow as the years pass. Time is marked by the celebration of each major holiday and after a while what once felt like a new and unique experience fades into an everyday aspect of life. This week is Korban hyate. The holiday that all the foreigners love to hate because of all the blood that lays splattered on the ground, or because of all the lamb fat that they eat. In past years I have posted way too many pictures of this gross affair that I won’t burden you for another year.
Yesterday I left the house in hopes of joining in the joy and community environment of my neighbours celebrating outside. For the first year ever the weather was fairly nice and no snow was falling to cover up the blood. Instead the wind was whipping around forcing the still unfallen leaves to detach from the trees and swirl around in an excited flurry of activity. The children, dressed in their new fancy holiday clothing, ran around outside from one sheep to another taunting them with sticks. Older women in their aprons traded each other sheep organs and intestine with their bare hands and a cheerful “thank you” as they now had more of the pieces they needed to cook their feast. Men gathered up the sheep skins and loaded them on the carts to be donated to the Mosque as part of their alms of generosity.
As much as all of that is part of the annual Korban hayte adventure, my day was different than expected. Sadly I witnessed the shedding of more than just sheep’s blood. As I walked down one street I saw a huge camel being tied up by several strong young men. These neighbours had worked together to get a lager animal to sacrifice. The camel protested loudly as the man wrestled him to the ground and prepared him for his fate. I got the attention of one of the women standing next to me “I thought his holiday was in memory of when Abraham sacrificed a ram in the place of his son?” “It is,” she said with a smile. “Then is it okay to offer up another type of animal in remembrance?” I asked since this was the first time I had seen anything like this. As it often happens to me in this culture, I start by appropriately talking to a woman or two in the corner, but soon the men over hear the foreigner using Uyghur to having a deep conversation and push their way into the center. The women have been taught their place and silently move aside letting the “white bearded” or wise men of the community discuss theology with me.
In a different apartment complex I visited, the wind picked up with such ferocity that a brick was sent airborne from a 6th floor window ledge. It fell smashing the back window of a nearby vehicle causing glass to shatter and spry into the air. The echoing sound of the car alarm covered the sound of terror and it was few seconds before we all realized an elderly women had also been hit (whether by the brick or the glass I am not sure), but she was out cold laying on the ground, her blood trickled and mixed in with that of the sheep. The neighbour men came to their senses and dropped their butcher knives to the ground. Several of them gently lifted the women onto their shoulders and moved as swiftly as her weight would allow to the hospital that was only a block away. I still don’t know how she is. I hope to go back and visit one of her neighbours tomorrow. I will post an update as soon as I know something, but until then, if you are a praying person please remember this women and her family… what an awful event to happen right in the midst of the year’s biggest celebration.