Eid Al-Fitr 1439H
Eid Al-Fitr 1439H, more commonly referred to in Indonesia as Lebaran, is the celebration that comes at the end of the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadhan. The Arabic meaning of Idul Fitri is “becoming holy again”.
The dates of the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, Ramadan, vary from year to year, as the Muslim calendar (Hijrah) is based on a lunar cycle of 29 or 30 days. The exact date is determined by the sighting of the new moon. These lunar calculations lead to an official announcement by the government on the eve of Ramadan and Idul Fitri so that the faithful know when to begin and end the fasting month.
In 2018, the fasting month of Ramadan started on May 16th and Lebaran will fall on June 14th, with most offices and businesses taking “shared holiday/collective leave” from June 13-June 19th (or longer)
To understand the significance of Lebaran, an understanding about the fasting month of Ramadhan is important. During the month of Ramadhan, Muslims must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, marital relations or getting angry during the daylight hours. In addition, those fasting are supposed to refrain from bad habits – lying, getting angry, using bad language as well as to be more diligent in prayer and give to charities. It is believed that fasting heightens spirituality and develops self-control.
The fast begins in the morning just before sunrise, at Imsak, and is broken at maghrib which falls at sunset. Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is one of the five pillars of Islam and an obligation for devout Muslims.
Those who are expected to fast include: adults (defined as those who have reached the age of puberty) and those who are sane. Those who are not expected to fast include: children, women having their period, travelers, the sick, those with long-term illnesses, pregnant or breastfeeding women and the mentally ill.
The faithful who fast awaken early in the morning to have a meal before subuh. In order to awaken the faithful, the call to prayer is sounded from neighborhood mosques. In addition, groups of young boys or devoted individuals walk around neighborhoods beating on drums and other noise makers to awaken the faithful (and their neighbors) yelling out “sahur, sahur“.
The breaking of the fast at sunset is a normally very social occasion for which special foods are prepared for gatherings with family or friends. Upon hearing the sound of the bedug drum on the television or radio as well as the call to prayer from the local neighborhood mosque at sunset, the faithful know it’s time to break their fast, or buka puasa. This is usually done with a very sweet drink and sweet snacks. Maghrib prayers are made before a full meal is served. Taraweh congregational prayers are held in neighborhood mosques and at gatherings every evening at about 7:30 p.m. These prayers are not compulsory, but they are attended and enjoyed by many.
The schedule for Imsak and Maghrib is posted in major newspapers and on the television throughout Indonesia, as well as published in handouts by major religious organizations.
While it is expected that people will keep to their normal activities during the fast, needless to say the lack of liquid and food during the day and the unusual sleep and meal schedule soon take their toll. During the fasting month you may see that sleep and food deprivation cause those fasting to have reduced energy levels as well as finding it more difficult to concentrate on tasks.