Skip to comments.Yazidi: "In lettuce we do not trust"
Posted on 01/03/2003 6:50:01 PM PST by yankeedame
In lettuce we do not trust
January 4 2003
It's a religious sect no one, it seems, can explain.
Neil MacFarquhar writes from Bashiqa, Iraq.
It is hard to get a straight answer from any Yazidi when it comes to what, exactly, defines their sect. Take their taboo against eating lettuce.
A man who teaches the Yazidi equivalent of Sunday school avoids the kind of explanation found in encyclopedias - that the process of fusing a smattering of faiths, including Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam, left the origins of many Yazidi practices obscure. Instead, the teacher, Falah Hassan Juma, links the sect's lettuceless state to its history of persecution by Muslims and Christians.
The caliphs of the Ottoman empire carried out many massacres against the Yazidis in the 18th and 19th centuries, he explained, with thousands of them killed in the lettuce fields then dotting north-eastern Iraq.
Watching the blood of innocents gush into the greens prompted a lasting aversion to the vegetable, Mr Juma said.
But a sect elder said that was incorrect. The Yazidis were persecuted, he said, and one ruthless potentate, who controlled the nearby city of Mosul in the 13th century, ordered the execution of an early Yazidi saint. The enthusiastic crowd then pelted the corpse with heads of lettuce. There have been sanctions against lettuce ever since, the elder said.
In the end, it is easier to go along with the strongest Yazidi tradition - there is no clear explanation. The Yazidis, who are ethnically Kurds, maintain one of the most eclectic of faiths.
They have adopted Christian such as baptism and a smattering of practices from Islam ranging from circumcision to removal of their shoes inside their temples. The veneration of their saints' tombs means few Yazidis have ever wandered far from their Iraqi roots, although there are branches in Turkey, Syria, Iran, the Caucasus and Germany. Estimates of their numbers swing wildly, but are generally put at about 300,000 in Iraq.
The sect lacks any written text, which helps account for the tall tales explaining its doctrines.
Yazidi elders worry about dwindling numbers, since Iraq's desperate economic conditions force the young to emigrate. "The young want a better life," said Prince Tahseen Sayigh Aly, the sect's leader, sitting in a gloomy room dominated by a life-sized picture of Saddam Hussein. "Of course we are worried, especially since the young cannot marry outside the faith."
The New York Times
in fact, all religions are stupid. let's fight another war for your gods.
Oh, those wacky Iraqis.
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