What is Ramadhan? Ramadhan is a fasting month for muslims. 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.
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.
Actually the people who are expected to fast are: adults, the people who have reached the age of puberty . On the other hands muslims who are not expected to fast are: children, women who are having their period of menstruation , travelers, the sick, those with long-term illnesses, pregnant or breastfeeding women and the mentally ill.
The muslims who fast awaken early in the morning to have a meal before subuh. It is known as sahur. In order to awaken the faithful, the call to prayer is sounded from neighborhood mosques. In addition, groups of young boys do ‘ronda’. They walk around neighborhoods beating on drums and other noise makers to awaken the faithful.
The breaking of the fast at sunset is a very social occasion for which special foods are prepared for gatherings with family or friends. When the muslims hear the sound of the athan on the television or radio or the call to prayer from the neighborhood mosque at sunset. The muslims know it’s time to break their fast known as buka puasa. This is usually done with a very sweet drink, for instance; kolak and sweet snacks usually kurma. Maghrib prayer is done before a full meal is served. Then, they do Tarawih prayer. The prayer is held after Isya’ prayer in neighborhood mosques and or at gatherings every evening at about 19:00 p.m. These tarawih prayers are not compulsory but most muslims do it.
At the end of the month of Ramadhan and its special religious observance is the Eid holiday, called Idul Fitri or Lebaran in Indonesia. Oh yeah… before they do Eid prayer, they should pay Zakay Fitrah. In the lebaran this is the time when Muslims visit their family and friends to ‘Sungkem’ to parents and the elders ask for forgiveness for any wrongs they have committed in the previous year. They express this wish in the phrase “Mohon Maaf Lahir Batin” which means “forgive me from the bottom of my heart/soul for my wrong doings in the past year”.
Idul Fitri begins with mass prayer gatherings early in the morning at mosques, open fields, parks and on major streets. It is an amazing sight to see rows of hundreds of Muslim women all dressed in their mukena performing the synchronized prayer ritual. Muslim men tend to wear sarong, traditional shirts or baju koko and hats or kopyah to Idul Fitri morning prayers.
Traditional foods are consumed, family and friends gather to ask forgiveness and exchange greetings, new clothing is worn but it is not a must.
At last, forgive me from the bottom of my heart for all of my wrong doings. And Happy Idul Fitri.