Idul Adha in Malang, East Java

By Grace Wivell, introduction by Chris Linnan

Eid al-Adha, commonly known as Idul Adha in Indonesia, is the second of two official Muslim holidays. Idul Adha celebrates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his first-born son Ishmael. In Indonesia the holiday is an occasion for celebration with your friends and neighbors. Muslim families that can afford to will sacrifice cows, goats, etc. The family keeps one-third of the meat, distributes one-third to the community, and the remainder goes to the poor. At many ETAs’ sites our schools are a hub for the sacrifice and distribution of the food.

Idul Adha began on my high school campus on Saturday night with “Epic el Adha,” an evening of student performances: storytelling and singing, intense emotion and comic relief, and the loudest supportive cheering I have ever heard. This wonderful gala was followed by a parade that weaved through the village which surrounds the school: a loud and smoky experience with torches, flashlights, and noise-makers. I cannot fully express how thankful I am to have been swept along by students as they laughed, smiled, and called out phrases I could not understand.

Though I was not present for the actual sacrifices on Sunday morning, I was able to help my students portion out the meat from the animals using a small knife too dull for the task and a scale from one of the science labs. The bapak-bapak, male teachers and staff from the school, who supervised the affair hacked away at joints, and gave the occasional direction and advice to the students. It seems that the air of learning never leaves the atmosphere of a school. Using my upbringing as a farm girl and my years of involvement in my local 4-H club as a reference point, I even gave an impromptu lesson on the parts of the ruminant stomach as we sorted the organs, much to the amusement of the bapak-bapak. We laughed and talked about everything and nothing in their broken English and my hopeless Indonesian, and I realized that this celebration, just like any other, has more to do with the people you share it with than any of the traditions that it upholds. Idul Adha was a somewhat familiar experience that was unlike any I have ever had, and one in which I am extremely grateful to have taken part.

About the authors: Grace Wivell is a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malang, East Java. She graduated from Ithaca College, NY in 2014, with a degree in English (Teaching) Honors.  Chris Linnan is a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. He graduated from Emory University in 2014.   

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