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If you look through our past locations, it is not a difficult task to name a long list of merits for each. Our current host country of India has proven to possess its own unique strengths, especially in terms of diversity. It is an amalgamation of many different cultures with each practicing their own languages, traditions and religions.
This diversity is readily apparent in the city of Hyderabad where our current term is focused. The population, which totals around 9 million, is roughly 40% Muslim, with the remainder mainly comprised of Hindus. Being here has given our students and faculty the opportunity to get accustomed with the people and practices of both religions, and lessons have extended beyond the classrooms into the markets, temples and mosques that can be found throughout the city. The opportunity for a very distinct cultural experience presented itself this week, with the celebration of one of the most important holidays in the Muslim calendar, Eid al-Adha, taking place.
Eid al-Adha marks the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, but it is perhaps better known as being the “Festival of Sacrifice.” For adherents of the Islam faith, Eid al-Adha commemorates the Prophet Ibraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as a test of his faith in Allah, only to have him spared and replaced with a sacrificial ram. As a reward, Ibrahim was blessed with a second son, Isaac. Observant Muslims now perform a symbolic act during the festival by slaughtering a cow, goat, camel, or sheep and then distributing the meat to their friends, family and the needy. In India, cows are asked to be spared as a sign of respect towards the equally pious Hindu population, who revere them.
With Eid al-Adha falling on October 16th in India this year, TGS teachers Nick Martino and Garrett Austen arranged a field trip to the neighboring Mokilla village for Nick’s ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade students, so that they could observe both the religious ritual and sacrifice associated with the festival. Two of our twelfth grade students who observe Eid al-Adha, Jawed and Anat, also accompanied the students for the trip. Before leaving, Nick provided all those attending with the following podcast which provides a closer look at the topics of animal sacrifice, the Prophet Ibraham (Abraham) and the festival itself.
The sacrifice was not easy for some of the students to watch (and some elected not to), but it seems to have stirred profound emotions, many positive, in all that attended. Their willingness to venture out of their comfort zone and explore a new culture has resulted in some great reflections, many of which you can read at the links below. Check our tag dashboard set up on SPOT for further reflections in the future. You can also follow along with Nick Martino through his blog, Defenders of Ma’at.
Eid al-Adha reflections
Who is this? God by Alejandro R.
“Life isn’t just a pretty package” by River W.
“Eid al-Adha: Celebration, Sacrifice and Sharing” by Joseph H.
Eid al-Adha reflection by Paul S.
Eid al-Adha reflection by Tiana S.
Eid al-Adha reflection by Sydney M.