Eid in Daegu

Trip Start Aug 16, 2013
Trip End Aug 25, 2013

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday was the muslim religious holiday of Eid. I was glad it was a sunday as dates are based on moon sightings and not fixed, so they change every year. My last three eids in korea (there are two per year) fell on weekdays so I wasnt able to take time off to pray. With so many cancelled classes it doesnt look good if I ask for time off the day we do have classes. Also I dont live anywhere near the mosque so it would be a half day trip.

I heard prayers in the Seoul Itaewon mosque would be at 10am and this is the time they usually do prayers back home for people that are late arriving. I live in chilgok which is the northern tip of daegu and the mosque is in the central west side of the city.

I had to get up early sunday morning and leave home by 8.30 which was about the earliest I could manage. The bus is a winding 45 mins to the subway, after which I rushed over the five or six subway stops I needed to go. From there it was a quick 10 min walk to the mosque.

As I neared the mosque there were signs posted that the eid prayer was being held in the middle school beside. I got there at 9.50 with all my hurrying and the place seemed quite quiet. As I went towards the entrance people started coming out.

Unfortunately I had missed the prayer and they must have started at 9am. I dont see what the urgency was? Its not like there are halal slaughterhouses in daegu people had to rush to get too for their eid sacrifice meat, or they had to get back to work on sunday.

It was quite upsetting the first eid I would have been able to pray in korea I had to miss even with all my rushing. Had I known it was 9am from my location I would have had to have taken a cab for about 15,000w ($13) and still left at 8am.

I was however quite surprised by the size of the attendance. I tried to go up the stairs to see the hall but too many people were coming out. It seems the entire school gymnasium had been full of worshippers. I've never seen this many muslims in daegu before.

Its quite surprising where they all came from as Busan and Ulsan both have their own mosques for prayers. There is also a second Indonesian Mosque in Daegu that does its own service. In terms of size they were mostly Pakistani, Uzbeks, Indonesians, and Bengalis. Surprisingly no Turkish people.

They were also selling different food items. They were all uzbek items and some things I hadnt tried before. I had uzbek cake which was a triple layer sponge cake with a treacle filling. At first I thought he gave me three slices stacked but the cake has three layers. They also had samsa the mince meat and onion filled pastries.

Next to that they were selling kebab sandwiches. One was the traditional turkish style with thin meat slices. Another was large kebabs which they were filling into buns. The back of their car was used as a preperation area which they buttered the buns and added ketchup.

Many pakistani and indonesian people had traditional clothes and caps on. It was mostly a male congregation but I saw a few females. Surprisingly I saw some korean muslims as well. There were also people from a cell phone company trying to get you to switch phones.

I was quite surprised by the sheer size of the attendance. I have never seen all of these people before, on the streets, subways, buses. They are never in the few muslim restaurants which are always empty. If the muslim population in daegu is this large why arent there more muslim restaurants and places to buy halal meat? Where are all of these people hiding?

As I took the bus back to my neighbourhood I reached home just before noon. The large church were I live had a crowded parking lot as people were just arriving for noon service. Its nice to know they had time to attend their service, and not sure when I will next be able to have a day off for eid prayer in korea.

There are muslim communties in Korea, most noticeably Seoul Itaewon where there are many foreign restaurants with middle eastern and indian cuisine and the large Itaewon Mosque. There is also a large community in Busan as well as pockets in other communties.

There is a facebook group for muslims in korea https://www.facebook.com/groups/EPIK.Spring.2011/#!/groups/2248676913/

See also my earlier entry about Turkish Busan 

my published article "Muslim in Korea" which was printed in the InDaegu Newspaper

and the new mosque in the Busan suburb of Gimhae

The Korea Herald also interviewed me about Muslim Life in Korea

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