Ramadan Around the World #8: All Pathways Lead To The Heart And Homeby Fitriana Fajrin
This Ramadan we share with you a bird’s eye view of personal Muslim stories from across the globe.
An Indonesian professional narrates her observations in the big city and reminisces welcoming Ramadan and celebrating Eid back home, in her village.
If pressed to choose the most awaited month of the year, without a doubt the answer is none other than Ramadan.
Its significance for me is not without a reason. There are various kinds of experiences about Ramadan that have left a huge impression and meaning in me since childhood and it became the certain value I hold ever since.
Born and raised in a small village in Tegal, Central Java, Indonesia, made the Ramadan tradition even more memorable for me. The atmosphere of Ramadan in a village is full of kinship, it often creates a special longing for someone like me, who has been living in Jakarta for the last few years.
Ramadan in the village feels more serene, at least for me. My father and mother have always endured that my sister and I carry out our religious duty not only before Ramadan, but also in our daily life. Ramadan usually begins with forgiving each other. In the village, the beginning of Ramadan is filled with more prayers, reciting the Qur’an, and zikr. Back then, we as a family always took the time to pray at the closest mosque whenever possible. Sometimes, my father even becomes the imam for the local people.
I have always enjoyed every moment of worship spent with my family. Our mornings typically started with suhoor as a family, with a simple homemade dish by Mother that tastes so delicious! We continued to pray Fajr in the mosque, then recite the Qur’an before starting the morning of the fasting month full of hope that our fast can be accepted by Allah.
I also make time for Dhuha prayers as much as possible and try to pray on time shortly after hearing the call to prayer or azan. My Ramadan days then were usually filled with activities — such as school, college and other activities — that sometimes make me less hungry and thirsty. And, our iftar as a family was even more enjoyable because our family really treasured each other’s company during Ramadan.
Fast forward to living and working in Jakarta: The distinctiveness of Ramadan has never diminish even though I feel a lot of differences between fasting in Jakarta and the village. Amid a busy schedule as a DevOps Lead in an IT company for online fraud prevention in Hungary, I continued to fast as usual. Luckily, I work remotely from Jakarta, so fasting by adhering to the specified timings has never been an issue.
Being away from family does make me miss the atmosphere of Ramadan, which I felt during childhood until I moved to Jakarta. There are no more suhoor and iftar moments while sitting together with family at the dining table. The moment of praying together at the mosque with family has also been replaced by praying with other unfamiliar faces in the big city.
Well, fasting in Jakarta is indeed more challenging than in my village because I have to fast amid a very busy working schedule. Fortunately, fasting hours in Jakarta are considered normal compared to other parts of the world. Maybe, there are Muslim friends in other continents that have to fast for nearly 20 hours while being active all day. Whereas in Jakarta, fasting begins at dawn, around 4:30 am until the sun sets at around 6:00 pm.
I still practise some Ramadan habits that have been stuck with me since childhood. Like breaking the fast with a cup of hot tea and three dates.
After that, I pray Maghrib and then eat my complete meal — with rice and side dishes. Taraweeh prayers also feel more challenging because sometimes there are no friends who want to go to the mosque together, so I have to go alone. What’s the challenge then? Overcoming personal laziness!
As it has become a kind of tradition all over Indonesia, I also enjoy ngabuburit (passing the time before iftar) in Jakarta. Ngabuburit, or better known as hunting for food to break the fast, is indeed very fun! On weekends, sometimes even when it is only 4:00 pm, I would start looking around for takjil to break the fast. My favourite takjil is none other than bakwan (vegetable fritters)! Especially those that are still hot because they are just freshly lifted from the pan. Looking for kolak, pastries and traditional snacks is also mandatory for my ngabuburit agenda. If I am not cooking, I buy a meal to break the fast.
Sometimes I also deliberately look for takjil and other iftar foods at the snack market. All places selling iftar food will be full during this time because people are looking out for the iftar delicacies. But, no worries, for the last three years I have always implemented strict health protocols when going out for ngabuburit.
Meanwhile, mudik or annual homecoming tradition is also a very famous tradition in Indonesia besides ngabuburit. A few days before Eid — usually a week — people in Jakarta prepare to return to their hometowns. It is not surprising, considering most of Jakarta’s population are nomads. Like me. Well, I also cannot possibly miss this mudik tradition. Although last year I did not go home because I wanted to avoid the spread of COVID-19, this year I plan to go home for Eid.
Nothing beats the joy of celebrating Eid at home. Every time I set foot in my hometown, it feels like all my childhood memories of the Ramadan atmosphere come flooding back.
There is a moment I most look forward to after we do Eid prayers together in the mosque or field. It is sungkem or kneeling before my father and mother. Asking for forgiveness for all the mistakes I have ever done. The relief and happiness would fill my chest when I could be with them on Eid and prior to returning to Fitr (Ramadan). Incidentally, Fitri is also part of my name. 🙂 Maybe this is a form of prayer from my parents so I can always ask forgiveness from Allah and return to being cleansed from the sins I have committed.
Indeed, for me there is nothing happier than celebrating Eid with family. I pray we are always be able to enjoy the moment of Eid with family and loved ones until the end of our lives. May Allah bless us, InshaAllah. Aamiin.
Curated by: Muslim Pro
About the Writer
Fitriana Fajrin, 30, currently lives in Jakarta, Indonesia and works as Lead DevOps in SEON, a Hungary-based tech company in the fraud prevention field.