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  • Chinese Muslims observe Corban Festival
    2012-10-29    source:Xinhuanet    author:

     Muslims in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region went to mosques at sunrise Friday to attend their largest religious service of the year.

    Friday marks the start of the five-day Corban Festival, which is also known as Eid al-Adha or feast of the sacrifice, when Muslims slaughter lambs to feed to the hungry.

    The majority of Xinjiang's 10 million religious followers believe in Islam. There are around 24,000 mosques in the region.

    Li Xuejun, imam of Hantenggeli Mosque in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, led a morning prayer and presided over the slaughtering of the animal.

    "It has been a busy day. In addition to the prayer, I will visit homes of the elderly and the disabled to give them blessings," said the imam.

    On streets, lambs were being loaded onto vehicles.

    Yijiati, a trader said he drove 400 lambs to a market in Shengli Road on Thursday, as the animals were being sold for the festival. By Friday, there were only a few dozen left.

    Saiyiti, owner of a roast mutton restaurant, said the festival brought in a lot of business. His restaurant served around 50 lambs and 400 chickens a day during the past week, which was four times higher than a normal day.

    "A lamb is sold between 1,000 yuan (160 U.S. dollars) and 2,000 yuan. I guess my stock will be sold out today," he said.

    Corban Festival features family gatherings with lamb as the main dish.

    Nusilaiti, a muslim of Uygur ethnic group, said his wife was cleaning the house and preparing the family dinner.

    "My sister, who is studying in eastern Shandong Province, will return home for the festival. The whole family will have dinner together," he said.

    Xinjiang regional government has announced to exempt vehicles with less than seven seats from toll fares on expressways during the five-day holiday in the region.

    The government has also made preparations to make sure the market has enough supply of lamb and beef.

    China has more than 20 million Muslims. Besides Xinjiang, northwestern Gansu Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region are also heavily Muslim-populated regions. The religion is popular among people of about 10 ethnic groups including Uygur, Hui and Kazakh.

    In Gansu, better-off Muslims have passed on the tradition of giving cooked lambs as alms to the needy at the time of the Corban Festival.

    Ma Hamai, a Muslim of Hui Ethnic Group in Linxia City, Ningxia, said "Many of my relatives and friends could not afford to have lamb on the table during the festival. I used to slaughter a dozen lambs and send them to their homes. Now, there are few people I know that need the alms."

    In Ningxia, which has 2.29 million Hui ethnic population, a large gathering in the Nanguan Mosque in the regional capital of Yinchuan kicked off celebrations.

    Around 10,000 people took part in prayers on Friday morning.

    Bao Jinxian, deputy director the administrative office of the mosque, said a growing number of believers attended the festival in recent years. The mosque had to add two more platforms with 400 more seats to cope with the demand this year.

    Thousands of believers from home and overseas, who are attending the ongoing autumn session of the Canton Fair Phase II -- China's largest export fair -- in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, went to local mosques. They joined in prayers and attended the lamb slaughtering organized by the Guangzhou Islamic Association.