Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Invitations

A few days before our vacation from work for the celebration of Eid Al Adha, the children and I were invited to spend the first day of Eid at the home of one of my co-workers; who is also my neighbor.  I love when I get invitations.  It gives me another chance to learn more about Sudanese ways and culture.  What better way to learn the ways of a people than to observe a religious celebration.
Our day began at 5:00 a.m. at the time the morning prayer began.  We prayed and then prepared for our day.  Many mosques were saying, “Allaahu Akbar, Allaahu Akbar, laa ilaha illallah.”  Many mosques allow small children to say this over the loud speaker.  It is always a joy to hear the children early in the morning.  At 7:30 a.m. the boys and I left our home going to the next district for the prayer.  We met my co-worker and headed in the direction of the mosque.  I was expecting to go inside of a building.  However, we came to an open field with many men and women dressed in their best and sitting in rows waiting for the Eid prayer.     Everyone looked so lovely.  We prayed and listened to the lecture.  Once finished, we began greeting everyone and wishing them well, making du’a that the upcoming year is full of blessings.  No matter how young or old a person was, they attempted to hug everyone there and wish them well.
After worshipping Allaah in the prescribed manner that we have been taught, we left to have our first meal of the day with my colleague and family.  Although there are many words I could use to describe their wonderful home, I could sum it up by calling it HOME!!!  Immediately my children fell in love with this simple yet wonderful place.  There was a place for sheep and pigeons.  There was a big courtyard for them to run and play.  The Mother of the house was very loving and I was surprised in the course of a day just how much work she did.  A few men from the family took a sheep to the front door and slaughtered it.  They hung him up at the opening of the door and skinned him and began cutting him into pieces.
In the back of the house, me and the women of the home prepared the meal and washed the meat as it came back to us.  I had such an enjoyable le time bonding and learning to prepare Sudanese food.  I learned how to make a drink called Shurboat, salad with peanut butter, grilled lamb, fried lamb, lamb soup and a hot pepper sauce. (Just to name a few)  It was such a delight when I sat down to eat the finished product.  I had watched ad participated in the whole process from live sheep to very delicious, irresistible meal.
About one hour after the first meal, I made preparations to return home.  I thanked everyone for a nice time.  Everyone responded, “Where are you going?”  “Why are you leaving?’ “Stay for our afternoon meal.”  My children, who had made themselves very much at home said, “Please, please don’t make us go, we want to stay with Grandma.”  So, I accepted the second invitation and stayed a while longer.  Everyone lay down for a while to take a mid-day rest.  The children watched cartoons, Eid festivities from different countries and various Qur’aan recitations on television.
Shortly following our afternoon nap, the Mother of the home presented us with our late afternoon meal.  Just as the meal before, it was delicious.  We ate and reflected on our day.  The boys ran back and forth in the yard among the lambs and pigeons.  It was also their feeding time.  After our meal we drank more Shurboat and then tea.
By the time we had finished our second meal, I felt that I had to go home.   I could not eat ANYMORE, but as long as I stayed, I would be presented with more.  Sudanese hospitality is wonderful.  Once again I made the announcement of my departure and began getting my children ready to leave.   Again I was presented with another invitation.  “Where are you going?” “Sleep here with us.”  As if it was some kind of conspiracy, my youngest son had dirtied all of his changes of clothes late afternoon as the sun was going down, so I washed his clothes, hang them up and prepared to stay for the night.  I felt so comfortable and loved the hospitality I was being shown. The night went on and we ate more lamb and drank many cups of tea, coffee, and juices.  We drank to the point we took many trips to the bathroom.  The children professed over and over how much they loved Sudan and enjoyed their Eid.
After a lovely night’s rest, we awake to pray and prepared to leave. Guess what?  You guessed right, another invitation.!!!!  We ate the morning meal, thanked the hosts and returned home with an everlasting imprint in our minds of Sudanese hospitality and the invitations.