Rituals

2 August 2013

(pictures from Korite aka Eid, the end of Ramadan, 8 August 2013)

First thing I see when I walk out of my hut Korite morning.  My host Mom, Diara, with the head of the cow slaughtered at dawn.

First thing I see when I walk out of my hut Korite morning. My host Mom, Diara, with the head of the cow slaughtered at dawn.

I’ve always been fond of rituals.  Making Dad go downstairs first on Christmas morning to see if Santa came.  Campfires that start and end with specific songs.  Cheers for upper classmen and Seniors dressed in white.  Debriefing and debriefing the debriefing.  Toasts past down through generations of teammates.  From a traditional Episcopalian up-brining, summer camp, boarding school, NOLs and college field hockey I found and relished in traditions. I like all the standing up and kneeling we do in the Episcopal church because I know if I find a church with red doors we’ll do the same routine.

tadaa

Village chief and another elder after the Korite service.

The rituals of daily life here are not particularly heart-warming—rising to pound grain, going to the fields to work, eating without talking to the others around the bowl.  During Ramadan a new ritual falls into place.  Slowly, as dusk begins to fall, everyone gathers in their family meeting area, buckets of drinking water at the ready, hot drinks and bread in the wings.  Everyone talks about their day, commiserates on their tiredness, rails against heat and praises the rain.  Then someone says the word and we drink our first sip of water since dawn.  Sweet, hot drinks are passed around, tea imported from The Gambia in my cooking group, and bread is broken into even pieces for adults and smaller servings for kids who did not fast but still get to take part.

Me and my namesake in our matching outfits for the holiday.

Me and my namesake in our matching outfits for the holiday.

Eating together is a ritual we often overlook or take for granted, but after a year of eating with either men or women (never and), scarfing our food down without a word.  Sitting with the whole family catching up on the day, laughing, savoring our bread because nothing tastes better than breaking fast.  A ritual that seems grand when you consider that Muslims across the world are doing the same thing as the sun passes the reaches of their longitude, but is sacred because of the specific people you gather around you.  I have fasted for most of Ramadan this year (20 out of 30 days), and though I doubt it is a ritual I will keep, I will add it to my list of fondly regarded traditions.

Allah ma ma bela jaariŋ. (“May your dear ones be here next year.”  The blessing shared on Korite.)

MaryCad.

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