Across China: Corban Festival celebrated in NW China village
YINCHUAN, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- At around 9 a.m., Zhou Shengqi, 80, left the mosque in his village after prayers and returned to the house he has called home for more than 40 years. It is an important day for him, as 33 of his relatives have returned home for an annual family celebration.
On Monday, Muslims in China welcomed Corban Festival, also known as Eid al-Adha or the feast of the sacrifice, a three-day event centering around a large feast where a meal of lamb takes center stage.
Zhou lives in Mumin New Village in Wuzhong City, northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The region is home to China's biggest concentration of Hui people, who are Muslims.
By the end of 2015, there were more than 2.4 million Hui people in Ningxia, about 36 percent of the region's population.
Zhou's house has a big courtyard, with an old, gnarled jujube tree in the middle. His grandchildren and great-grandchildren use a bamboo stick to try and knock the sweet fruit from its branches.
"Corban is one of the most important festivals for Muslims. I am so happy that most of my family have returned from the cities to break bread with me," said Zhou.
For this year's feast, Zhou has bought a cow and six lambs, which cost around 20,000 yuan (3,000 U.S. dollars). He wanted to make this day one to remember.
Zhou has the biggest family in the village. He has five daughters, a son, 13 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, and three more on the way.
"It is very rare to have such a big gathering like ours in my village," according to Zhou's wife Ma Kaihua, 74.
"Each year everything about our Corban celebration gets bigger, the food, the celebrations, but most importantly, the family."
Mumin New Village is a typical Hui settlement, and 68 Hui families live there. It was enlisted as a national-level intangible cultural heritage site in 2007. The local government in 2011, selected some of the families as homestay hosts, who offer tourists bed and board in this unique village.
Zhou's family was one of those picked. His daughter-in-law and his granddaughter-in-law mainly take care of the family business throughout the year. They welcome around 400 visitors annually, guaranteeing a handsome income.
The once poverty-stricken family have seen their lives improve. Besides the homestay, Zhou's son and grandson also manage an auto repair center in the city. All of the family have good jobs in the city.
"My wife and I collect a pension worth about 3,000 yuan a month, so we are comfortable," Zhou said.
In 2004, Zhou went to Mecca for Haj. Three years later, his wife also went on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, followed by their daughter and son-in-law.
"Such journeys would be impossible in the past because we just didn't have the money," Zhou said. "The government have made our dreams come true."
As he spoke, Zhou's daughters brought in cold cucumbers, rice, pancakes and beef with pickled vegetables, and the family gathered around the table for breakfast. The men of the family came in from preparing the cow and lambs and the women began to pass the dishes around the table, and the children giggled between mouthfuls of fruit.
"Breakfast is usually simple," said Zhou's other daughter Zhou Yuping, 45. "Our main meal will be ready at around 3 p.m."
"In my eyes, the meal is not the most important activity," Zhou Yuping said.
"What matters is that all of our family are here at our home, and that's what makes this day so meaningful for us."