The Muslim population of Lombok takes part in Ramadan every year.
It can be a really special event to be a part of, so here are a few details in case you are planning to be in Lombok (or any other Muslim areas of Indonesia) during this time.
What is Ramadan?
It is a holy month in the Islamic Calendar, when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for approximately 30 days. Doing so is one of the five pillars of Islam, allowing them to devote themselves to their faith and come closer to Allah. It is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer, good deeds and spending time with loved ones. The other pillars are faith, prayer, charity and making the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.
It falls on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, as this is when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The dates change from year to year as Islam uses the lunar calendar, so it is based on the sight of the new moon.
At the end of Ramadan, Idul Fitri will be celebrated for 2 or 3 days. During this time family and friends get together to eat, drink and give gifts. It is also custom to visit the poor and needy to give food and water. There is usually a large night-time parade in the Kuta area with floats and fireworks - really quite incredible!
What does fasting involve?
As well as no food and drink, smoking and marital relations during daylight hours is avoided. On top of this, it is required to refrain from impure thoughts of any kind - lying, anger, desire. Just before sunrise, at around 4am, a meal will be taken before the fasting begins. To break the fast, people will enjoy a sweet snack or juice before heading to evening prayer, followed by a larger meal with family and friends.
Are there any exceptions to fasting?
Usually those suffering from medical conditions, children, the elderly, those that are travelling, pregnant women or those menstruating are not required to fast. They may make it up at another time of the year though.
How will this effect Lombok?
During Ramadan, drinking and eating in public is considered disrespectful. It is recommended to try and avoid doing so in the middle of the street! Away from the tourist hubs of Kuta and Sengiggi, many eateries will close in the daytime. However, in said hubs, you will still be able to find restaurants open, many with blinds covering the windows. In Kuta, the late night parties usually stop for the month, but bars with acoustic music will be open until around midnight.
Bear in mind that many local workers at your hotel, your driver, waiter etc - may be fasting, so do be considerate if they are tired and slow - a month of fasting does take it’s toll.
If you have a driver for the day, allow him to time to break the fast if you are still travelling at this time. Or avoid travelling at this time of the day altogether.
You may be kept awake or awoken early by sounds from the mosque or nearby families waking up to eat. If you are a light sleeper, bring ear plugs but do not be tempted to tell them to be quiet. It would be seen as disrespectful.
As soon as the day starts to draw to a close, you’ll notice a buzz in the air as many food stands are set up offering tasty local snacks and drinks, with people whizzing back and forth to stock up before the evening prayer. Roads will be busy at this time so be careful.
During Idul Fitri many businesses may close and roads/airports will be busy all over Indonesia. It is recommended not to travel at this time, try and get involved in the local celebrations if you can!
Can I get involved if I am not Muslim?
Absolutely. You’ll notice a strong sense of community during Ramadan. You may be invited to break the fast with locals, or perhaps you may even want to try to fast for a day or two. Ramadan is also an incredibly charitable event, so consider donating to a local charity, or buying presents for children. You can also learn this phrase “Minal Aidin Wal Fa Idzin” used during Idul Fitri to greet friends and family.