Ramadan Around The World: Celebrating Ramadan in Indonesia

by 19 March 20241 comment

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

“Ramadan Around The World” is a series of articles celebrating the rich tapestry of Ramadan traditions and practices from diverse cultures and communities across the globe. Share your experiences, insights, and reflections on Ramadan through our dedicated contribution page on the Muslim Pro Blog. Let your voice be heard, and let your story inspire others on their own Ramadan journey!

Ramadan, also known as the holy month full of blessings, holds significant meaning for Muslims worldwide. In various cultures and countries, there are diverse celebrations of Ramadan with unique traditions and practices reflecting local customs.

In Indonesia – the country with the largest Muslim population in the world – Ramadan is welcomed and celebrated with great enthusiasm. The combination of Islamic rituals with the cultural heritage of the archipelago, makes Ramadan celebrations in Indonesia unique and captivating.

Let’s explore the rich traditions and cultural aspects of Indonesia in celebrating Ramadan!

1. Ramadan Preparations

In Indonesia, unlike most countries, anticipation for Ramadan begins weeks in advance. In villages and suburban areas, communities engage in massive preparations for Ramadan, not only in their own homes but also in the neighborhood. This includes cleaning houses and mosques, decorating their homes with colorful lights and banners. Traditional markets are bustling with Ramadan preparation activities. People are busy shopping for food items and other necessities. A week or so before Ramadan, public cemeteries are filled with people paying respects to the departed.

Taman Makam Pahlawan Kalibata_Hessy Trishandiani
As Ramadan approaches, cemeteries are usually filled with pilgrims (Photo: Hessy Trishandiani)

2. Communal Culture

Ramadan in Indonesia is also closely associated with togetherness and community. Communal culture is manifested through activities such as breaking the fast (iftar) together, often referred to as “bukber” (buka bersama). These bukber gatherings are commonly held among friends, families, residential communities, and also public in mosques.

Bukber gatherings often serve as a reunion for those who haven’t met in a long time. Bukber during Ramadan has become a highly anticipated special moment and people usually make time to attend these bukber events. It’s not just about breaking the fast and eating together; the desire to foster closer relationships is a primary reason for attending bukber gatherings.

Breakfast fast with dates or kurma.

3. Bukber and Its Spirit of Sharing

Another special aspect of bukber gatherings is the act of sharing. It’s common in Indonesia to organize buka bersama events with the less fortunate. These bukber gatherings are often held in orphanages, nursing homes, shelters, and mosques. Along with breaking the fast with the less fortunate, these events often involve donation activities.

Rice packets for iftar
Rice packets are usually distributed for breaking the fast together at the mosque (Photo: Masjid Pogung Raya)

In large mosques, such as the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, bukber events are open to the public. The mosque provides free food, like takjil (appetizers for Iftar) and nasi bungkus or nasi kotak (packed meals or rice box) to be shared during Iftar. Everyone, from those intending to pray Maghrib at the mosque, passing travelers, to the needy, all come together to break their fast in the spirit of togetherness during Ramadan.

4. Enjoying Nusantara’s Culinary Delights

Indonesia is also famous for its mouthwatering Indonesian cuisine. As Iftar approaches, street vendors and restaurants offer a wide variety of Indonesian dishes, including kolak (sweet boiled fruits made with dark palm sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves), bubur sumsum (rice flour in coconut milk and served with palm sugar syrup), fried snacks, and jajan pasar (traditional market snacks).

RATW ID4 Ramadan Around The World: Celebrating Ramadan in Indonesia

Each region in Indonesia has its own special Ramadan dishes, adding to the country’s culinary diversity. As Eid al-Fitr approaches, traditional dishes specific to the holiday start to appear, such as ketupat (rice cakes in woven palm leaves), chicken opor (coconut milk-based chicken stew), sambal goreng ati (spicy liver dish), pumpkin soup, and rendang (spicy beef stew). Eid celebrations in Indonesia are definitely incomplete without these foods!

5. Bustling Night Markets and Bazaars

Throughout Ramadan, pasar kaget (a temporary market that occurs when there is a crowd or celebration), night markets, and bazaars spring up in various cities across Indonesia. Pasar kaget are usually held in the afternoon in front of mosques, fields, and town squares, while night markets appear after sunset. Ramadan bazaars are often found in malls. Various foods, clothes, and items for Ramadan and Eid preparations are available and can be bought at discounted prices, if you’re lucky.

RATW ID6 Ramadan Around The World: Celebrating Ramadan in Indonesia

Food stalls at pasar kaget (Photo: Umar Ben)

In addition to food stalls, these markets and bazaars sometimes feature live music, ranging from modern music to Qasidah (traditional Islamic chants) and Marawis (a group playing a small double-sided, high-pitched hand drum originally from the Middle East), as well as cultural performances typical of each region. Various Islamic-themed competitions are also often held, such as an Azan recitation competition, Qasidah singing competition, and Quran recitation festival. All of these contribute to making the Ramadan celebration atmosphere more vibrant and meaningful!

6. Spiritual Reflection

Despite the festive atmosphere of Ramadan celebrations, Indonesians also emphasise spiritual reflection. Muslims in Indonesia allocate additional time for sunnah prayers, Quran recitation, dhikr, and I’tikaf in mosques. Almost every mosque holds communal Tarawih prayers every night. The peaceful atmosphere of mosques during Ramadan provides a place for spiritual contemplation to draw closer to Allah SWT.

tarawih prayers

Taraweeh prayer at mosque (Photo: Annas Arfnahri)

Celebrating Ramadan is always a special moment, eagerly awaited and missed. InshaAllah, may we all be granted the opportunity to meet Ramadan again in the following years.

This Ramadan is special because we also have the opportunity to participate in the Umrah giveaway from Muslim Pro and AQUA. Don’t miss the chance to experience this spiritual journey!

About The Author

Hessy Trishandiani

Hessy Trishandiani is from the Muslim Pro team based in Jakarta, Indonesia. Bringing her experience in media to her role, she is passionate about exploring culinary delights and traveling to exotic destinations. She embodies a spirit of adventure and curiosity, always eager to expand her knowledge and skills. Dedicated to continuously enhancing her abilities, she strives to create engaging Muslim narratives that resonate with audiences worldwide.

1 Comment

  1. Sirin



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