Idul Fitri Traditions

For Idul Fitri, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan, we got a chance to spend it like real Indonesians do, thanks to a party invite from Surya (a bandmate of my co-worker Adam).

We headed over to his family’s house near Kebayoran Baru, which is cramped with thousands of homes accessible by narrow streets and alleys.

We were greeted by Surya’s parents, who held our palms in both their hands and then touched their chests in a gesture of forgiveness — a hallmark of Ramadan’s cleansing process.

In their humble abode, Surya’s family served us some traditional Idul Fitri fare. His sister, Sari, told us that they only cook these dishes on Idul Fitri.

Clockwise from chicken wing: Chicken curry, sweet beef dish (much like humba in Cebu), vegetable stew, beef rendang (a sort of dry curry mash) and ketupat (sticky rice packed in woven coconut leaves then cooked for 8 hours)

There were even some makopas for dessert, except they call it jambu bol here.

After lunch, Sari prepared some crisp Rp 2.000 bills and invited us to accompany her on a tour of the village, where she could distribute money to neighborhood kids, as custom dictates.

Just like Filipino children during Christmas, the Indonesian kids have to make mano (a greeting or salutation by pressing an adult’s hand to one’s forehead) before they can get the cash.

We also toured some houses, including that of Sari’s former landlord. We had to take off our shoes before we entered the abode, then we sat around a coffee table stockpiled with sweets and refreshments for visiting guests. It was much like a fiesta, where Filipino families would prepare meals and open their home to strangers and friends alike. A safe form of greeting is “Selamat Raya Lebaran” or happy Idul Fitri day.

The area reminded me so much of the slums I visited in college, except this place was much cleaner. Part of the village is walled, because Suharto once lived inside this walled area. When he was ousted, the property was converted to accommodate residents. Sari also told me there are plans to demolish the entire village to make way for apartments. It’s a ripe time to organize villagers, I thought.

Afterward, we all decided to pile into bajajes (plural of bajaj. see below) to go to the mall, which are pretty empty because everyone else is in their respective provinces, celebrating Idul Fitri with their families or at home, having low-key parties like the one we had.

The bajaj, a tricycle shaped like a beetle and held together by rope, tape and canvas sheets. Gives great butt massages and can fit three people.

Then we ended the day by eating the BEST BURGER we’d ever had yet. Fatburger at Plaza Senayan serves really juicy, meaty burgers for Rp. 30.000 to 50.000 depending on extra toppings and such. Yum! But the onion rings were so-so. They glowed neon.

Happy Idul Fitri indeed.

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