As the nation with the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia has diverse Ramadan traditions. The majority of Indonesian population is Muslim and due to the diversity in population, the traditions and rituals are also highly varied across the country, The Jakarta Post reports.
Despite the differences in practice, the spirit of Ramadan remains same. Ramadan is highly anticipated and celebrated. Muslims in Indonesia have a unique enthusiasm in welcoming the holy month as they are joyful and highly excited about it.
A month earlier, in the month called Syakban, they hold various programs and rituals. Kindergarten and school students go around the city in procession, malls offer special discounts and promos, special religious rituals called ruwahan are held at home.
During Syakban, people visit their late family’s graves to pay their respects and share their thoughts. Indonesians call this tradition ‘nyekar’ or ‘flower giving’. To welcome Ramadan, people dress their family’s graves with beautiful flowers and scents as they believe the souls of the departed will be in high spirits hence returning back to them in Ramadan.
The city of Semarang marks the beginning of Ramadan with the Dugderan carnival, which involves parading the Warak ngendog, a horse-dragon hybrid creature allegedly inspired by the Buraq. “Dug” is the sound of a mosque drum to indicate the arrival of Ramadan, while “Der” is the sound of cannon that is fired simultaneously with the sound of the mosque drum.
Muslims in Klaten, Boyolali, Salatiga and Yogyakarta in Central Java have a different ritual, Padusa, as they submerge themselves in water believed to be holy or bathe in holy wells or springs to cleanse themselves spiritually and physically prior to the holy month.
Being a multicultural country, Indonesia is known for its religious tolerance. This religious tolerance is portrayed in the actions of several non-Muslim organisations who give iftar alongside alms to the poor and needy. In Bojonegoro in Central Java, a Buddhist temple is renowned for frequently giving free iftar meals to Muslims since six years.
Indonesia has adopted rituals from different cultures and created a unique blend of its own.