Ramadan Celebrations in Indonesia in 2018

  • SHRADDHANVITA TIWARI
  • UPDATED May 29, 2018
  • 7 Views

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Ramadan 2018, the month of prayer and blessings for Muslims, is here. As the Muslims from around the world get busy in their strict schedule of daytime sawm (fasting), iftar (the sunset meal), suhoor (meal before the dawn), and abstinence from myriad things, traveling during the month of Ramadan becomes a fascinating cultural experience. And, what place could be better than the land of Java coffee- Indonesia! Indonesia is home to 12.7% of the total Muslim population in the world and therefore, travelling to Indonesia during Ramadan is when you can witness the country going through a spiritual transformation. Everything in Indonesia changes dramatically and drastically. While the shops owned by Muslims are closed during daytime, at night, the streets come alive with lights, restaurants offer cheap and delicious food, and the shopping malls become the kindest places on earth with their attractive discounts. Be a part Ramadan Indonesia 2018 and see the entire new face of the land of ethereal beauty!

Ramadan Traditions in Indonesia

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The month of Ramadan is celebrated to welcome Idul Fitri (meaning to become holy again in Arabic), which is “Lebaran” for the Indonesian Muslims. Ramadan holiday in Indonesia also comes this day. They refrain themselves from all the bad habits and participate in various charities. You will see people waking up before dawn and reciting Quran. At evening, throngs of people would gather in the mosque for evening prayer after which they break the fast. However, in Indonesia, different traditions are observed during the month of Ramadan in different parts of the country. Some interesting ones are as follows:

  • In Jakarta, the Betawi people participate in Nyorog in which they exchange gifts with their family members.
  • In Central Java, people perform Padusan in the pools of mosques before Ramadan. They clean their entire body with the holy water.
  • In Aceh province of Indonesia, people celebrate Meugang with their families two days before the month of Ramadan by enjoying their traditional meat dishes. 
  • In Kotabaru, the group of youth called Bagarakan Sahur walks through the streets early in the morning and wakes up people for the pre-dawn meal by playing music.  
  • In Kusus, the festival of tabuhan bedug is celebrated 10 days before Ramadan to welcome the holy month with the sound of barrel drum. 
  • In Ternate Island, a beautiful festival called ela-ela is celebrated. It starts with a communal prayer and then thousands of bamboo torches are lit to guide their way to heaven. 
  • In some regions of Indonesia, street parades and takbeer chant competitions are held during the month of Ramadan. 

Food in Indonesia during Ramadan

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As Muslims refrain themselves from food and drinks from sunrise to sunset, most of the restaurants are closed during the day. Finding food in the daytime in the places like West Java and Sumatra could be a herculean task. For non-Muslims, some restaurants are open even during the daytime but most of them cover the front part with curtains to respect their Muslim fellows. On the other hand, everything catches a tremendous speed as people go for Iftar and break their day-long fast. The restaurants that look like a quite swan on the lake suddenly become chirping nests as the crowd of happy people approaches. If you are new to this, make sure you book a table in advance for dining out. Unless you are staying at an international hotel chain, you may not get alcoholic beverages in the country during Ramadan. On the other hand, Ramadan in Bali would have different scenes as Bali has a Hindu majority. The restaurants offering Chinese and Balinese food are open all day. 

Shopping in Indonesia during Ramadan

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While Ramadan marks joyous festivities in Indonesia, it is also the biggest shopping event in the country as most of the Indonesian Muslims indulge in shopping groceries, fashion items, and gifts for their loved ones. The Ramadan boom can be seen in Indonesia’s markets and shopping malls clearly. Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, becomes a shopping hub during the Ramadan season. Almost each and every mall in Jakarta offers wonderful deals on clothes, accessories, food, jewelry, and other household items. The market of Tanah Abang in Jakarta and its Grand Indonesia Mall bustles with a large variety of retail products. The best thing during Ramadan festival in Indonesia are the “pop-up markets” where you will find Ramadan special food at cheap price. 

Nightlife in Indonesia during Ramadan

In Ramadan season, all kinds of nightlife, be it music clubs, pubs, bars, karaoke, or massage parlor, everything remains close entirely. However, in some parts of Indonesia, especially in the areas where tourism has flourished hugely, the nightlife begins after the evening prayer and ends before the dawn. On the other hand, the nightlife on the island of Bali is least affected by Ramadan and most of the bars and clubs operate normally. For party lovers, celebrating Ramadan 2018 in Bali would be good choice. 

Traffic in Indonesia during Ramadan

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Towards the end of the month of Ramadan, during Mudik, when people go home to get ready for the celebrations of Idul Fitri, the roads connected to Jakarta often get crowded. There is a sudden rise in traffic and transportation becomes slow. The major ferry ports and streets have a lot of traffic even a week or two after Ramadan as people are returning to their businesses. In addition to this, you will witness a heavy traffic in evening at the time of Iftar. Indonesians love to go for Iftar together. The places Lombok during Ramadan get really crowded when the office hours end. As already mentioned above, the restaurants, main city squares, and malls see a huge crowd of people busy in Eid preparations. 

Finally, some things to remember while touring Indonesia in Ramadan:

  • People do not eat or drink all day, so your work can get a little slower (reasonable enough!). So, keep patience. 
  • The customs during Ramadan can be stricter at one place than the other. So, make sure that you gather information about these before booking an accommodation. 
  • Although Indonesia has liberal values, it would be appreciated if you dress up little more conservatively in the month of Ramadan than you normally do.
  • Indonesians are friendly people. They would love to make you a part of their culture. Join them for Iftar, ask about their traditions, and celebrate a happy Ramadan in Indonesia.

You might have traveled to Indonesia before for its beaches, parks, and resorts. Visit this beautiful south Asian country for celebrating the holy month of Ramadan and you will be overwhelmed with a unique cultural experience. Have a great Ramadan in Indonesia 2018!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SHRADDHANVITA TIWARI SHRADDHANVITA TIWARI

After five years of her teaching career, Shraddhanvita decided to make 'travel' her passion. For her 'a rolling stone does gather moss'. She is a wanderlust driven soul, a poet, a pluviophile, and a humanist. Fascinated by nature's bounty, she finds solace in the lap of magnificent hills and her books. Travelling made her learn much and love much more with one thing that remained constant is her desire to keep moving.

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