08 February 2008

2328) Noah's Pudding Ashura: Symbol Of Coexistence

 © This content Mirrored From TurkishArmenians  Site armenians-1915.blogspot.com Ashura's (Noah's pudding) ingredients can include water, wheat, chickpeas, rice, raisins, dried apricots, dried figs, apple, salt, sugar and honey. Grated orange and lemon peel, walnuts, hazelnuts, cinnamon and pomegranate seeds are also included as garnish. It is distributed to neighbors, and the dish is eaten with pleasure. So is ashura a desert or a meal in itself?

The day of ashura represents the 10th day of the . . Arabic month of Muharram, which is also called the month of Ashura. The day of ashura is observed 10 days earlier than the previous celebration because it is determined in accordance with the Muslim calendar, a calendar based on the movements of the moon instead of the sun.

Ashura was derived from "asara" which literally means "tenth" in Arabic. It is spelled Ashura in some Arabic dialects and Ashurah in others. Some assert that it came from "ashur" in Yiddish. The said notion is used in the Jewish belief to refer to the grand redemption day. According to commonly held belief, the Prophet Noah prepared a mixture from all the food left in the ark following the flood and called this mixture ashura. There are a number of other references to the day of ashura; the following beliefs are attributed to this day and its special dish: the acceptance of repentance of Adam by God, the Prophet Jonas' rescue from the whale's stomach, the birth of the Prophet Ishmael, the assumption of the Prophet Idris (Enoch) to Heaven, the reunion of the Prophet Jacob and his son Joseph, the healing of Prophet Eyyup from leprosy, the acceptance of the Prophet David's repentance, the birth of Prophet Jesus, and the murder of Prophet Mohammed's grandson Hussein and the 72 Muslims who accompanied him on Dec. 10, 680 by Yezid.

Obviously, these incidents are important not only from an Islamic perspective but for other religious beliefs. However, there is no reference in the Quran indicating that these events took place on the day of ashura. Members of the Qadiri order cook the ashura dish twice in Istanbul. One is for joy and the other is for sadness and mourning. The first is to mourn the Karbala martyrs. The second is to celebrate the survival of Prophet's grandchild Zeynelabidin in Karbala. Armenians also cook a meal very similar to ashura to celebrate their local festivity, Anus Abur, which is also based on Noah's legend. In the 40th day following a funeral; Orthodox Christians give away dry ashura, "koliva," which is also prepared under different names in predominantly Orthodox countries such as Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Every year, we hear in news reports about blood spilled on the day of ashura. Do we have to remain silent to this bloodshed? Can't we offer a modern interpretation of the day while preserving the gist? Why do Muslims who peacefully observe Saint Valentine 's Day become violent when it comes to day of ashura? Is it some sort of plot to undermine the image of Muslims and present them as violent?

Ashura is the secret of making the scarce abundant; it is something done in collectivity and eaten together. It is the symbol of coexistence in both good and bad days, of rejuvenation, solidarity, being a human being, sharing and the joy of giving away. Ashura is the ability to ensure the coexistence of differences. It is the ability to view differences and diversities as richness. It is the ability to appreciate that people in the world are different, just like the ingredients in the dish. It is the symbol of coexistence in peace just like the ability of its ingredients to be together. It is the common cultural value of three divine religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism). It is the core of alliance of civilizations.
05.02.2008

Hasan Kanbolat h.kanbolat@todayszaman.com