Today the animals are gone from the street side in Jakarta but a week ago on a drive from our house to the high school we passed cows and goats standing patiently in stalls and empty lots all along the way. Last year I managed to be oblivious to the influx of livestock, perhaps because our car still hadn't arrived so my explorations of Jakarta were very limited. I saw a buffalo in the kampung area near my house and few goats tied at the end of the street but that was about it. This year I realized there are a lot of animals being sacrificed for Idul Adha. It really is a BIG deal. Much more than just another day off for my driver and pembantu.
What is Idul Adha? If you are like most Americans you may not have even heard of this Muslim holiday or you may have a vague idea that this is the time of the Haj, when Muslims from all over the world descend on Mecca. Curious David asked Haryono and I googled Idul Adha. Here is what we found out:
- Every Muslim is supposed to make the Haj at least once in a lifetime. Idul Adha marks the end of the Haj.
- The animals I saw are bought by individuals, families, or groups and on the morning of Idul Adha they are slaughtered and the meat is donated to the poor. For many poor here in Jakarta this may be the only time of the year they get to eat meat.
- The slaughter of animals is done in remembrance of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael.
- The date of Idul Adha varies from year to year and is based on a lunar calendar that is 11 days shorter then the western calendar. Last year it was on New Year's Eve, 10 years from now it will be on September 1st.
- If you are squeamish DO NOT go for a drive on the morning of Idul Adha, we did and ended up saying "Hey look at that....over there!" to keep the kids from seeing the gore. The animals are slaughtered publicly. We did not take pictures as this is a religious event, to take pictures seemed intrusive and disrespectful.