china edition


Corban Festival

Date: The 10th day of the month of Dul Hajah (the 12th month on the Islamic Calendar)
Venue: Areas with large Hui, Uygur and Kazakh communities

There are 10 ethnic minorities whose religious faith is Islam. These 10 peoples include the Hui, Uygur, Kazaks, Kirgiz, Tajik, Tatars, Uzbek, Dongxiang, Salar, and Bonan.

"Corban" is an Arabic word for "sacrifice" or "dedication". The Chinese version for this word is ZaishengJie (the festival of butchering animals), that is, the day to slaughter animals as an offering. Legend has it that Ibrahim, the Prophet, on his way to Mecca for pilgrimage received in a dream an order from Allah that he should offer his son Ismail to the God. But at the very moment Ibrahim was brandishing a sword to do so, Allah sent a special envoy to bring him a sheep and inform him to sacrifice it instead of dedicating his son. Since then, this practice has been continued and developed into today's Muslim Corban.

On the Eve of the festival, families clean their houses thoroughly and get busy preparing various kinds of food. On the day, Muslims bathe, pray, watch the ceremony for sacrificing animals, visit and greet their friends and relatives.

Corban Festival

Based on different customs, some minority peoples have their own distinctive way of celebrating Corban. The Kazaks, for example, celebrate the festival with such horse riding activities as the "Sheep Snatching Contest" and the "Girl Chasing Game".

According to the rules of the Sheep Snatching Contest, the participants ride horses, bless the elders after listening to their prayers. Then the elders place a bound sheep at designated spot. All participants on their horses ride to be the first to snatch it. Each team represents a village.

The Girl Chasing Game is quite popular among the young Kazaks. In this way, girls and boys may court each other. At the beginning of the game, the boy and the girl ride abreast. Then the girl whips her horse and the boy chases after her to an agreed point. Once they have reached the point they swap. On the way back, it is the girl's turn to chase the boy. If she catches him, she is allowed to hit him with her whip. If the girl loves the boy, she just raises her whip high but only taps him gently. Otherwise she shows no mercy with her whip! Such merry-making more often than not ends in love and marriage.