Indonesia’s Ramadan and Eid in 2020, of no Bukber, Mudik, and Salam-salaman

This year’s Eid, the celebration at the end of Ramadan, is totally different. The pandemic that hit the world has altered many social aspects, including culture and religion. In Indonesia, home of the largest Muslim population in the world, the normal Ramadan is a festive.

The television and mass media will have advertisements specially made for Ramadan, and it’s not only food, it also includes cellphone providers, political party, travel agents, to the point that it becomes an inside joke — people are able to mark that Ramadan is getting closer when the TV starts to show the ads of cocopandan syrup, which is the main ingredient of many desert specifically made for iftaar (breaking the fast when the sun sets).

There are pasar kaget, food stalls that pops up during Ramadan, that sells all sorts of sweet such as kolak pisang, pisang ijo, es dawet, es buah, es kacang ijo, any Indonesian dessert you can think of. They are open just before iftaar, in Indonesia, it will be around 3–4 pm of Western Indonesian Time. People from all over the town used to come to pasar kaget and get their favorite food to eat there and bring home for iftaar. Not only in those pasar kaget, there will be pop up stalls just about anywhere on the main street.

Ramadan in Jogokariyan (Image from Tribunnews/instagram/suwitopoms)

People will invite their families, friends, or collagues to eat together for iftaar, buka bersama or bukber for short, whether it is at home, or in a warung, or restaurants, and the invitation is open to anyone, whether or not you’re fasting, whether or not you’re a Muslim. Ramadan brings families and friends together.

During the nights, mosques will be full of people for taraweeh prayers that are done in the month of Ramadan.

Closer to the end of Ramadan, there is mudik, it’s a term used for traveling to see your families at home, and in this case for Eid. In 2019, approximately 14.000.000 people travel from Jakarta to do mudik.

In the day of Eid, Muslims will conduct Eid prayers, in mosques or outdoor. After the prayer is finish, there will be salam-salaman, people will shake the hands of the ones sitting next to them, their neighbors, the people that they know of, everyone, really, greeting them, wishing them good prayers for the deeds that they have done in Ramadan and after. The mosques in different communities, as well as families also hold open house, including in the President’s place in Bogor. In smaller kampung, or komplek, the members of the neighborhood visited each other. People provide food and drinks, and their hospitality to celebrate. Both Ramadan and Eid really underline social interaction.

Of course, it’s a whole different arrangement this year. Although the TV still do their advertisements, they add a little bit of this and that, video-calls in iftaar or suhoor, story lines of being away from your families in Ramadan, adding a little message to remind people of the protocols of social distancing. There is not as much pasar kaget, if there is one, there won’t be the same crowds. Restaurants and warungs are remarkably empty. Many of the mosques don’t conduct taraweeh prayers.

In the prayer calls, the usual verse of ‘hayya alas-salah’ or ‘come to prayer’ is being replaced with ‘al-salatu fi buyutikum’ or ‘pray in your homes’.

The restriction of travel and large-scale social restriction made people stay at their place instead of doing the usual mudik for Eid. And for the prayers today, we will see on the news, whether or not people will pray, but there certainly won’t be open houses and big gatherings. The visits and greetings will be done via video calls.

It’s not Ramadan and Eid that we are familiar of, but let it not stop us for a hope of better future and prosperity.



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