anth 121 Essay

Submitted By naaz112
Words: 1783
Pages: 8

1. Fieldwork Assignment: Learning to See Clearly

My day at the mosque starts at 7:20pm, I walk in and see women dressed up in beautiful outfits, they are adorned with sequins and colorful designs and made from a flowy fabric, the men are dressed sharp in a suit and nice tie. I notice that some people are bringing in plates of food and placing them on a table near the door, I wonder who these are for and where they go. There are two small rooms, one on the left and one of the right. Women go into the room and the left, put their shoes and coats away and then come back out. This area seems to be sort of like a lobby, its quiet because of the prayers going on inside, but yet there are a few whispering voices. There’s also a small kitchen, which the smell of saffron and flour radiate from. After putting away my shoes, I exit the shoe area and am in the lobby section. There are about 15 chairs set up along the walls of each side and about 30 more chairs set up into lines right in the middle of the room. I pass the chairs and head inside. As I walk in I can hear the sound of a girl singing something in Arabic into a microphone at the front, shes seated by a podium facing the rest of the people in the room. There are many people seated inside, women on the left, and men on the right. There are also more chairs at the back which are being used by elderly people. Most of the people seem to be singing along with the girl at the podium. Before entering I watched people touch the floor and bring their hand up to their face and whisper something to themselves, then they take a seat inside. I did the same, and then followed to the womens side. By 7:28pm the girl stopped singing and took a seat with the rest of the women. The room was completely silent until 7:30pm when a man started to recite something, again in Arabic. During this I watched people do a hand motion in front of their face 6 times. I wonder what that represents or signifies. This would be much easier if I could understand what the words meant. About 10 minutes later another mans voice comes on the mic, everybody listens to him and then touch the floor and then their face repeatedly 3 times in a row and then look from side to side. Everybody seems to know what to do and how to follow along. Everybody just stood up, I guess I should stand as well so I don’t look odd. A woman is up at the front mic again, this time standing, she is reciting something and everybody has their hands out face up with right hand on top of the left palm. As we do this, there is a woman on the left and a man on the right sitting behind a table lighting an incense. The woman is closer to me so I watch her to see what happens. While we are all standing, she sits behind her table, the incense is lit and the whole room quickly starts to smell of it burning. She brings out a pot and some very small cups, she hovers all of them over the smoke from the incense and then sets the pieces down on the table. She places the pots close to her and the small cups in front of it. She then takes a jug of water and pours it into her pot. I assume this might be some type of holy water for people to drink, but I’m not completely sure. Who is allowed to drink it and is there some sort or ritual that needs to be performed before they can have it? All of a sudden everyone sits down, I sit down as well. I’m not sure of the time anymore, but that felt like it couldn’t have been over about 10 minutes long. Now another man comes up to the podium and says a few word in some other language, it sounds like Gujurati or a something that might be close to it. He just shouted out “50 dollars”, a man sitting down calls out “100 dollars”, and another man at the back puts his hand up and says “200”. They seem to be bidding on something, I’m definitely really confused! This goes on and ends with a man at 450 dollars. The room is silent and the man walks up to the front, he hands the man at the podium a cheque and then in return