3 days ago as I climbed a makeshift and very shady ladder that now connects our house and a neighbor’s house to return bowls that they had generously filled with futari (breaking the fast) food the night before. I returned them full of beans and mchuzi (curry). We talked for a bit and soon it was dark and everyone started emerging to see if the moon was visible marking the end of Ramadan. I never could really see it but soon the women next door shouted over that it was “siku kuu kesho” (starts tomorrow). It is Eid here and that changes everything! To say Siku Kuu is big is a severe understatement. It literally means the Big Day and everyone celebrates for 4 days together with family and friends. There are several “musts” for siku kuu. Lots of cooking, baking keki wa mayaix (an egg sponge cake) and vileji (a cookie type thing- wicked dry if you ask me :), passing out these cakes and cookies to neighbors and friends, visiting, LOTS of visiting, getting henna, wearing new clothes, and partying it up at the sikukuuni (festivals). Every year it sneaks up on me and I forget just how crazy it gets around here. This year I really learned a lot more about the culture. What is strict religion and what is cultural practice. Very interesting and makes me look harder at what we do at home too. Often when you are part of the culture it is hard to separate why we do what we do. It has been awesome to engage and share stories mostly sitting around baking cakes, peeling potatoes, or changing clothes and getting ready to visit. Just sharing in our friends lives.
Anni received some fabric for her birthday that I took to a friend to sew but the dress never made it in time so we found a new one in her closet that while was a bit big would do and Evy was given a frilly little dress from our friends here as a gift for Eid. She was pretty adorable in it. I did not get new clothes made but did “pendenza” up a bit (eyeliner, bling headscarf, etc) for our visits and Jason wore his kanzu and kofia (robe and hat) much to every one’s delight. If you are able to afford it you have new clothes made for every day of Eid and a friend explained that even if you are poor you save all year to buy new clothes as it is “lazima” or necessary. We got a little flak for not having new clothes for everyday but I just said that God cares more about your heart than your outside clothes to which everyone had to agree:). Anni was super pumped about siku kuu though because on the first day kids are allowed to go house to house asking for money or candy. Sorta like Halloween in a way. Anni was thrilled when some neighbors brought over some pesa (money) for her. She had about 30 cents that was burning a hole in her pocket until she went to the festival that night.
The first morning of Siku Kuu we got our first visitor before 8am and even when I got home from the festival with a car full of kids at 9pm there was someone waiting for me. The past 3 days have been some of the most busy and intense since we arrived here and I so want to record everything. I just need to make the time. And soon. It has been a crazy few days and now as I sit reflecting on it all I am immensely grateful for all the experiences here.
here are a few sights of Siku Kuu…
some of the food our neighbors brought over the last night of fasting
a neighbor came over the day before siku kuu and said that I was called to get my henna 🙂 I was preapring for our shule party and thus could only get a little bit (that was drying until the kids arrived)
J & Evy…wamependeza!
how frilly is this dress?
our oven was on from 9am until 4pm baking keki….it was HOT in our house!
waiting for the keki is hard work!
I got lots of help preparing our shule celebration! (pics soon)