Friday, September 10, 2010

Selamat Hari Raya

Selamat Hari Raya! That is the phrase we greeted everyone with, as we entered their homes to devour their delicious and beautifully laid out food. Today was Hari Raya, a huge celebration to mark the end of Ramadhan. Muslims essentially make a ton of dishes, both savory and sweet, and invite people, regardless of religion, to enjoy said food. Colleagues from work invited everyone at work over, and so we ended up visiting 10 homes by the end of the day- literally eating nonstop from 11am to was WILD. Everyone was just so very hospitable, refilling drinks, opening up jars of their many different snack foods to try, etc. Southern hospitality is nothing compared to that of people here. When you enter someone's home, you take off your shoes, you put out your hand. People of the house sandwich your hand with both of theirs, and then you both bring your hand to the left side of your chest- a sign that you greet each other from the me this is the warmest and most genuine of ways to greet another person.

Everything I experienced that day made me feel even worse when, in one of the homes, people were watching news of the whole Qur'an burning situation and intense Muslim hate in the US. I felt really ashamed to be associated with America at that moment. What a sad thing, the insidious pair of ignorance and hatred, which afflict so many Americans today. I just hoped to do my best to not offend any of my colleagues' sensitivities, to show that I do respect and care about their customs and beliefs.

Is it any wonder that my last post, and this one are about food? I think not. In fact this is a testament to how much people here think about and eat food. A typical greeting, after all, is "Have you eaten?"I was happy that I got to see a range of different households, and in the end, felt like curry sauce would be flowing out of my ears.

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