This year, Ramadan-the holy month for Moslem- falls from July to August. For many Moslem, this is the best time to get closer to God. While for beggars, this is the best time for their business. Ramadan in Indonesia are very different than other part of the world, here are the interesting things about Ramadan in Indonesia
Well, it is not unique, but traffic during Ramadan is dantesque. Working hours in Indonesia are normally cut to seven hours per day because people do not go out for lunch. During Ramadan, people leave the office as early as possible to enjoy iftar with the family. This mean, cars are on the road at the same time, heading to the same direction, housing areas outside Jakarta.
2. Early call
People, often children, walk around the neighborhood to wake people up so that they could have their early meals. They will bring any single thing that make noise and wake everyone. One could also use the voice and screaming on the street to wake people up. This can be useful if those who are observing Ramadan are finding it difficult to wake up early, but for those who have sleeping problem, this can be a big issue.
3. The THR
According the labour law, employers in Indonesia are oblige to give THR, Tunjangan Hari Raya (the holiday allowance) to its staff. The amount is equivalent to one month salary. If employers fail to do so, they will face prosecution. Theoretically, THR is only between employer and employee, but in reality, everyone has to give THR to other people. Here are my THR list this year:
- A group of security guards in the area; I do not know these people.
- A group of young people from the Mosque; same as above, I do not know these people.
- Staff in the kost, who are hired by the landowner; and I am the tenant!
- My aunt’s helper; she talked to me in sign language (she’s deaf) indicating she wants money. Beside her, my mom’s helper is also on the list as well. She would expect something from me.
- Contribution box distributed for security and policemen (who are paid by the taxpayer money) in my office.
- Ketua RT & Ketua RW (the leader in the community) through their assistant.
The spirit of THR is good, to share the fortune with other. But I feel that people are starting to abuse it by begging and forcing other to give. Anyway, look at this official letter from a forum in Jakarta, requesting money:
4. The beggars
Ever wonder why jalan Pondok Indah or jalan Fatmawati is flooded by beggars? They are pengemis gerobak, the temporary beggars who live in wooden cart during Ramadan. For a month, they will stay in Jakarta, living with their kids on the street and begging for money. They do this simply because the Jakartans are well-known for their generosity. Thanks to that, some kids are now playing around the street until late and missing their classes.
5. Eating in public is punishable?
Everyone should respect people who are observing Ramadan. Gus Dur was the only person who said the other way. I’ve been so lucky that I’ve never sent on missions to Aceh during Ramadan. However, I lost my lucky charm when I was assigned to Banjarmasin early this July. The city regulates that restaurants, including the one in the hotel must be closed during puasa (from dawn to dusk). I even tried to find restaurant that open in the pecinan (chinatown) but nothing, everyone in Banjarmasin are not allowed to eat during Ramadan. However, in Jakarta, people can eat at anytime. Some restaurant will also give discount during lunch time; and of course the restaurant’s windows will be covered by curtain to protect those who are fasting.
6. Crowded Restaurant
Ramadan brings old friends back to catch up (and gossiping) over dinner, this tradition known as buka bersama. People start to have this dinner together in the second to the last week of Ramadan. Malls are usually crowded, while mosque started to be less attractive. Restaurants are usually fully booked, some even refused reservation and oblige its patrons to walk-in. Smart Indonesian will start to come at 4.30 pm, an hour and a half before the time to break the fast. If you happen to have a craving for something, please make sure it is earlier than 4.30 pm!
Ramadan in Indonesia is indeed different from other part of the world, but the spirit of Ramadan remains the same, to observe the religion’s duties and to be closer with family and friends. So Ramadan Mubarak everyone, I hope you are having a good one!