It seems that there is always a cause for celebration here in Jakarta, and the night before Idul Fitri has to be one of the biggest street parties I have ever seen here. There was excitement in the air as the sounds of many muezzin chanting the takbir in the mosques began as the sun set and continued through until sunrise and the night sky was lit with the bright colours of fire crackers being lit in the streets. The roads filled with traffic once again and angkots and other vehicles overflowed with passengers sitting on the roofs cheering and playing drums.
Monas was lit up by coloured lamps looking striking throughout the night and the surrounding grounds filled with people walking and riding around laughing and enjoying the end of the dawn to dusk fasting month of Ramadhan together.
After a couple of hours of sleep, we woke at 4am and managed to get a little lost on our journey to Sunda Kelapa, finally making it as the sun rose, and arrived to a sea of photographers waiting at the port for the morning prayers. Just when we thought that no-one else was going to arrive, a flood of people appeared, buying newspapers to lay on the ground and setting up prayer mats in front of the moored boats at the entrance to the port. The men gathered closest to the boats whilst the women and children set up on the road behind and it was a beautiful sea of colour as everyone took their positions.
Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity”, while Fiṭr means “breaking the fast”. This is a day where Muslims around the world try to show a common goal of unity by praying together in a large open area or mosque, and so Sunda Kelapa port is a perfect setting as it is able to accommodate many people gathering together for the morning salat (Islamic prayer).
At the conclusion of the prayers and sermon, families and friends gather to eat together as there is no fasting allowed during Idul Fitri. It is also common during this period for people to engage in “mudik” or “pulang kampung” activity which is an annual tradition where people travel to their hometowns or other cities to visit relatives to celebrate Eid with the whole family to ask forgiveness from parents, in-laws and elders.
This was another incredible day for me and I wish everyone in Jakarta and around the world “Selamat Idul Fitri”.