featured article
Fasting Tradition
in Bandung

BANDUNG (indo.com): Ramadhan is an Islamic name for the fasting month which takes place once a year. It is a month that is eagerly awaited by many Moslem believers, including Indonesian citizens of which over 80% of are Muslim. Ramadhan is valued much higher than any other month because it is a month when Allah erases all sins of Muslims who try hard to repent in this special month. It means that all Muslims should fast the whole month and resist not only the need to eat and drink, but most important is the control of desire and anger.

Ramadhan is special not just because it is a month when the gate of heaven is open wide, but also because Ramadhan contains two special days: Nuzulul Quran and Lailatul Qadar. Nuzulul Quran falls on the 17th night of Ramadhan. It is a night when the holy Quran was first granted to the great prophet Muhammad. Lailatul Qadar is a night of Ramadhan that is worth more than a thousand ordinary months. It is a night when all prayers will have great opportunity to be granted by Allah.

Many activities take place to celebrate Ramadhan. The Sundanese people in Bandung often go out before dusk with friends or family to welcome the moment of buka puasa, which means breaking the fast. They call it ngabuburit. Usually, places become public spots like Gasibu Field and Tugu Perjuangan in front of Gedung Sate or in a wide yard of Tugu Pahlawan Cikutra. In Gasibu Field, people play evening sports such as foot ball, jogging, biking, or even skateboarding without worrying of getting tired because of fasting. While in Tugu Pahlawan, lots of children play with mercon, small fireworks that create specific sounds.

One tradition for Muslims to break their Ramadhan fast at dusk is the serving of sweet drinks or snacks for their appetizers before getting into main meals. So, during Ramadhan there are stalls along the streets and markets selling dates and kolak, the most famous snack in Ramadhan made of sweet compote stewed in coconut milk and brown sugar. Beside kolak, there are also cendol (glutinous rice balls stewed in coconut milk and brown sugar) and rujak cuka, Indonesian salad with vinegar.

Kids, teenagers, and even adults do ngabuburit also in the mesjid (mosque) or mushola (prayer room). Usually, they do pesantren kilat, an intensive course of learning the Quran. They sit round reading the Quran and learning the Hadist (the Prophet Muhammad's quotes), Fiqih (Islamic jurisprudence), Tauhid (the concept of Oneness of Allah), Tasawuf (Sufism) and Nahwu Saraf (Arabic grammar) lead by a lecturer or even kyai (preist).

The Mesjid or mosque is the place they usually come to after breaking the fast. The Islamic Center on Jalan Diponegoro, Mesjid Agung Bandung on Dalem Kaum area, Mesjid Balai Kota, Mesjid Istiqomah on Jalan Citarum, Mesjid Al-Ishlah in the Dago area are some of the big mosques in Bandung that are full of Muslims every day in Ramadhan, especially at night when Muslims do tarawih, a special Ramadhan evening prayer.

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