Ramadhan is celebrated in full vigour and charm in Indonesia. Home to the largest Muslim population in the world, Ramadhan is often referred to as bulan puasa, the local language for fasting month.
During Ramadhan, a typical day in Indonesia starts from the wee hours of the morning when children walk around the neighbourhood beating slit drums and other instruments to wake people up for suhur. In Ramadhan, most restaurants and food stalls are not open for business until about one hour before sunset.
Just before iftar time, there is a tradition called ngabuburit, which literally means waiting for the sunset. Activities in this period range from reciting the Holy Quran, playing traditional games, studying religious books, or simply gathering around the living room to wait for the maghrib prayer call from the nearby mosque (or the television/radio for those living far from mosques).
Once the maghrib comes, people enjoy their iftars of sweet drinks and special snacks. After the maghrib prayer, full meal is served. When they’re finished with the meal, people go to the mosques for isha prayer and taraweeh.
Today, in many major cities in Indonesia, there is also a practice called buka bersama, which means breaking the fast together with relatives, friends or colleagues. This can be observed at many restaurants, cafes and mosques.
Since Indonesia consists of several regions and cultures, the traditions vary greatly from one place to another.
Although traditions may differ, the spirit remains the same, which is joyful and gratefulness in welcoming the holy month.