My mother-in-law's hajd

This evening, my mother-in-law in Iran will be starting her first pilgrimage to Mecca, or hadj, in Saudi Arabia. This pilgrimage is one of the five "pillars" of the Muslim faith and a goal to obtain in the religion, of possible. The trip was a norooz (new year) present from her sons. She has been extremely excited about this. She had been to Karballa four years ago and that was the first time she had ever left her country. And going to Mecca and Medina will be the furthest away she has ever been in her 70 some old years.

She will be flying to Medina tonight. Four of her sons and one daughter, out of nine, and their families will be with her at the airport to see her off. This is a common tradition in Iran. Two days from now, my sister-in-law will make a very large batch of a traditional noodle and chick-pea soup called Ash-e Reshte (literally soup of noodle). The soup will be given out to the families and friends of my mother-in-law. This is done whenever someone leaves for a significant place for the first time.

In one week, my mother-in-law will go to the neighboring city of Mecca from Medina where her real pilgrimage will start. Unfortunately, her hadj is in June and she does not do well in heat, but that might be good for her faith.

After one week in Mecca, she returns home to Tehran and there will be a big party. A common tradition is that one or a number of goats are procured to be ritually killed. The meat is then divided and distributed to the families and friends of the returning pilgrim.

Safar khosh, maman jan!
(pleasant journey, dear mother)

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