Yesterday was Korité, the party to celebrate the end of Ramadan. For many people, Korite was on Sunday- it has to do with seeing the moon the night before. However, here there are many religious confreries, which are kind of like different Islamic sects, and the leader, or marabout, of each confrerie must see the moon personally to then declare the end of Ramadan for his followers. My family is of the Mourite confrerie- one of the most "powerful" in Senegal (religion and politics are very linked, the president Abdoulaye Wade is a Mourite)- and the marabout of the Mourites claimed to not see the moon Saturday night, although many others did. So, my family fasted for one more day, on Sunday, and celebrated yesterday instead. It was interesting to see my different family members' reaction to this- my host father was sufficiently pissed off, claiming that Islam is Islam and that we should all celebrate together, that the confreries divide the religion and it is ridiculous to see the moon in some regions but not others. My host mother took the opposite view, that you need to trust your friends and neighbors and marabout, not members of other sects to decide what you should or should not do.
In my full party outfit, with my host mother and father:
Korité is a big deal here, one of the biggest holidays of the year. However, I soon learned that the "grand fete" essentially consists of sitting around, having lots of visitors, talking, and eating. Given all the talk leading up to it, I was expecting more of a party- celebrating, dancing, etc., but in reality the celebration was much more relaxing and simple. I really enjoyed this take on a party, where the point is enjoying the company of close friends and family, while eating a lot of food. It was a bit difficult in the beginning, as I clearly did not know any of those visiting and can not understand rapid fire discussions in a mix of french and wolof (only a word or phrase here or there, but nothing coherent). However, later on several other American students stopped by to eat with us, and ended up staying for 4 or 5 hours. We just sat around with my host brothers and some family and neighbors, eating and talking, and it was a relief for me to feel as if I could understand language again! It changed my idea of what a party is- sometimes it is so much more enjoyable to take it easy and discuss than put unnecessary effort into having a good time! And I think I certainly gained "cool" points among my host brothers; they seemed to be very pleased with the American girls that I invited over.
With Marie and Daba:
We ate a very large meal, rice with vegetables, eggs, and chicken, which was absolutely delicious. Then we sat around and drank ataya.
Well, I'm off to Wolof, so more later!
My full outfit, hair shawl and shoes included: