How to Celebrate Eid al-Fitr in Indonesia

The delicious ketupat
The delicious ketupat | © Sham Hardy / Flickr
Edira Putri

​Home to the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia gets even more fascinating during the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. Carried away in an atmosphere of victory and jubilee after a month of fasting, this holiday marks one of the best times to visit the beautiful and diverse archipelago.

From praying to socializing, shopping to charity, read on to discover how to celebrate Eid al-Fitr in Indonesia.

Pray at Istiqlal Mosque

Thousands of people will gather at Jakarta’s Istiqlal Mosque for Eid prayers, celebrating the special event together with family and friends. Whether you come to pray or observe, this beautiful mosque and historical landmark gets much livelier during this Muslim holiday—shiny white shirts and veils bowing down together in gratitude and harmony as the prayer resounds through the air. You may also spot the nation’s public figures and leaders praying at the Istiqlal Mosque during Eid al-Fitr.

Eid al-Fitr Prayer at Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta, Indonesia

Silaturahmi

Silaturahmi means maintaining connectedness with one another, a concept held dear by many Indonesians, Muslims specifically. During the week of Eid al-Fitr, friends and relatives visit each other’s homes bringing gifts and sharing food while catching up. During the celebration of Eid, feel free to visit the neighbors you never get the chance to know, or the family members you haven’t seen in a while. They’ll surely appreciate the gesture and who knows, you may have more fun than expected.

An Indonesian family during Eid

Contribute to the community

What’s a better way to conclude the holy month of Ramadan than sharing your blessings with the less fortunate? Muslims know the concept of zakat, or obligatory tax paid during Eid that will be distributed to the poor and needy in their neighborhood. You can pay this through local or neighborhood organizations or independently, and directly make a contribution to the causes of your choice. Generally, Indonesians receive a generous amount of bonus from their employers during Eid celebration, and some are channeling part of that money for the needy. Consequently, it will be easier to find charity events or organizations to help out during this period.

Shopping for new clothes

Wearing new clothes at Eid al-Fitr has become a pleasant and well-kept tradition in Indonesia for generations. Consequently, big crazy sales will be everywhere, from boutiques to department stores. This is the excuse you’ve been waiting for to shop until you drop—got to respect tradition, right? Good to know: In contrast, the prices on groceries will spike up around this holiday so grocery stores may be unbearably crowded the week before Eid.

Muslim girls at Istiqlal Mosque Jakarta

Try the delicious ketupat

This fancy-looking rice dumpling is ubiquitous during Eid celebration, packed inside a woven palm leaf in a dashing diamond shape. Ketupat can be eaten with countless options of traditional food, from chicken opor to the famed rendang dish, preferably enjoyed together with loved ones. In Java, ketupat symbolizes togetherness, and the act of giving this dumpling to your loved ones means asking for forgiveness as well as an invitation to live together in harmony for the year to come.

Ketupat

Observe traditional rituals

Despite being known simply as the world’s largest Muslim population, the case is much less straightforward than that. People carry out their religion in many different ways, and in Indonesia religious practices are often interwoven with culture and traditions. Yogyakarta, for example, has a tradition of Grebeg Syawal that involves locals scrambling about for a pile of produce provided by the Sultan. Lombok, on the other hand, celebrates Eid with a ‘ketupat war’ that symbolizes harmony among neighbors despite differences.

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