Eid-ul-Fitr 2016 - After the holy month of Ramadan in Islamic calendar, People of Indonesia celebrates Eid ul Fitr (Lebaran) festival. The four days celebrations of Eid ul Fitr 2016 will begin from July 06 in Indonesia.

Eid ul Fitr 2016

Eid ul-Fitr, also called Hari Raya Puasa or Hari Raya Aidilfitri in South-east Asia is the first day of Shawwal in Islamic calendar. It is celebrated as Lebaran in Indonesia. It refers to a process of spiritual rebirth or becoming pious again. It marks the end of Ramadan, and is a joyous celebration that involves prayers, congregations, social gatherings and family reunions. Food and festivity go hand in hand with gifting, and giving to charity (zakat al-fitr). Listening to a khutba (sermon), attending congregational prayers, celebrating with family members, and distributing gifts and sweets are old traditions that still hold as important social and religious practices of the day. While the energy level create an invigorated atmosphere, the collective pride and belongingness is distinctly evident.

Muslims in Jakarta Mosque, Indonesia

Hari Raya Idul Fitri in Indonesia - Eid ul Fitr is the most significant Muslim festival in Islamic Calendar. Most parts of the Southeast Asia including Indonesia, which is home to the largest Muslim population, celebrate this important day. Families begin this Eid morning with a special prayer also known as Eid Prayer. The prayer consists of two Rakats (units) and six Takbirs. This prayer offers a special thanks to god for the strength and discipline received during the holy month of Ramadan. The day gives out the important message of peace and brotherhood throughout the island nation as well as in neighbouring countries. The exact day of celebration varies as it is based on the sighting of the new moon.

Lebaran Celebration in Indonesia

During Ramadan, ‘bedug’ drums at sunset are used to announce the time for ‘buka puasa’ or the breaking of the fast. Similarly, drum-beating and street ceremonies which have become a part of the celebration, start a few days ahead of Eid-ul-Fitr. Parades and fireworks on the eve of Lebaran are big attractions.

Just as the month of Ramazan subjects the followers to a tough regimen of fasting from sunrise to sunset, the celebration is equally intense and overpowering. Typically, Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated by dressing up in traditional attire and headgear attends mass prayers in the mosque or streets in the neighbourhood. In Indonesia, women wear ‘mukena’ and men wear ‘shirt and sarong’ sets. Children can be seen gaudily attired and taking in the festive spirit.

Social practices during Lebaran

In Indonesia, people visit relatives and friends in the neighbourhood, greeting them "Minal Aidin Wal Fa Idzin". They donate money to children from poor households. A family get together at the eldest relative’s house is the norm while people also choose to visit local relatives, friends and business associates over a period of time. “Mohon Maaf Lahir Batin” is an eloquent phrase used for asking forgiveness from older relatives. Lebaran cookies, appetisers and meals are shared which make for fond family moments. Some people visit recreational areas. People also visit grave of their ancestors.

Food is an elaborate affair with a spread that prominently involves meat dishes in a stewed preparation and rice. Ketupat which refers to aromatic steamed rice is traditionally served. Meat preparation such as ‘Rendang’, ‘brongkos' and ‘Semur’, and rice dishes such as ‘Opor Ayam’ and ‘Nasi Liwet’ are delicacies made during Lebaran that derive much from Javanese cuisine. ‘Goreng ati’ which is a chilli paste is served as an accompaniment to the main course meal. Some other native dishes are also prepared and shared with friends, relatives and neighbours.

After the festive day of Lebaran is over, Halal bihalal which are formal gatherings held to ask forgiveness from with friends, colleagues and employees.

In the light of the broad range of practices, Eid ul Fitr or Lebaran intertwines common practical realities of life with empowering spiritual wisdom and practices. As such, zakat al-fitr to the needy, visiting graves of ancestors and asking forgiveness from the elderly relations are insightful and deeply inspiring.

Shopping and gifting

On this great occasion of Eid ul Fitri, the local markets in Indonesia offer great choices for shopping and gifting. They offer the best in fashion clothing and accessories, often a special collection for the occasion. Gifts vary from decorative stuff to household appliances to items for personal use. People rush to buy the best they can to deck up for the festival. Invariably, the markets and stores showering huge discounts and deals take on the proportions of a suburban retail phenomenon.

Lebaran Holidays

People employed in offices and workplaces are entitled to a considerable bonus for the celebration. People use the money to buy gifts, clothes and other items for relatives back home. Banks, private offices and government departments and institutions remain closed for almost one week. It is warranted by the exodus of people returning to their hometowns to celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr. The exodus is called ‘mudik’. A multitude of people are seen as part of this mass exodus a few days in advance, as lakhs of people embark on a spatial and spiritual journey in this holy month to be with their family and bring in the important day of Lebaran in all its glory.