Exploration to the Rich Diversity of Eid Celebrations in Indonesia
Muslims worldwide have just completed a month-long fast during Ramadan, a highly anticipated period celebrated annually. However, are you aware of the diverse Eid culture in Indonesia?
In Indonesia, Eid is celebrated with a variety of traditions. It all starts with the excitement of returning home and reciting unique takbirs. Participating in halal bihalal by visiting older relatives and graves is also customary. Additionally, Indonesians take pleasure in feasting during Eid, with ketupat being a popular dish. The diamond, a symbol of Eid, is always present during the festivities. While Eid is a time for physical celebration, it's crucial to broaden hospitality and forgive one another. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation, and many people take this opportunity to reunite with their families after spending time abroad.
With the diversity that exists in Indonesia, it turns out that there are many unique Eid traditions in several regions in Indonesia that are interesting for you to know. Some of them are;
- Grebeg Syawal (Yogyakarta and Surakarta)
Indonesia's diverse culture is reflected in the unique Eid traditions celebrated across its various regions. One such tradition is Grebeg Syawal, which is observed in Yogyakarta and Surakarta. The word "Grebeg" originates from the Javanese term "gumerebeg" or "gemrebeg," which means ambush or uproar, as the ceremony concludes with loud noises like shouting and laughter. The Royal Family of Indonesia, including the Surakarta Hadiningrat Kasunanan Palace and the Yogyakarta Palace, typically performs this thanksgiving ceremony the day after Eid al-Fitr, distributing alms in the form of snacks or produce.
The Grebeg Syawal ceremony is a yearly event to express gratitude to the King and God Almighty, symbolized by two mountains that are fought over by the community at the end of the ceremony. The "gunungan," a symbol of gratitude after completing a full month of fasting, is escorted by the palace soldiers and carried by hundreds of palace servants before being contested. The food variety in the "gunungan" has several meanings, such as symbolizing the diversity of people living together. This hereditary legacy from Sultan Agung during the Mataram Kingdom is not just a spectacle but also a cultural tradition that continues to uphold important values.
- Ngarak Barong or Ondel-Ondel (Betawi)
Ngarak Barong or ondel-ondel is one of the traditions to welcome the joy ahead of Eid al-Fitr for the Betawi people. This tradition is generally carried out before the week after Eid. The word Barongan in this tradition comes from the word Barongan, which means together. Initially, the Ngarak Barong tradition was carried out before the harvest with the aim of driving away reinforcements and outbreaks of agricultural products. However, along with the development of the times and the inclusion of religious values in society, the Ngarak Barong tradition experienced a shift in meaning and became a tradition of welcoming Eid al-Fitr.
The procession is carried out by a pair of bride and groom escorted by two Barongs and four cepu bearers. This cepu is a container containing cakes and crops brought by an army of warriors, namely rows of village people accompanied by drum beats. Every street that is passed by the convoy, the people put the cake in the cepu. Then, the cakes were handed over to the ustadz/village elders to read a prayer of congratulations. After that, the cakes and snacks can be taken freely by the community and eaten together. This tradition is a gathering place for Betawi people. Anyone, from any group and family may join in celebrating Eid Betawi.
- Tellasan Topak (Madura)
Tellasan Topak Syawal is a traditional celebration held on the sixth day of the month of Shawwal, to honor villagers who observe the sunnah fasting for six days during the month. This tradition was introduced by Sunan Kalijaga to promote Islamic teachings on gratitude to Allah SWT, strengthening social bonds, and giving alms in accordance with the customs of the Archipelago. A significant aspect of this tradition is the spirit of camaraderie, mutual giving, and cooperation, as it is usually carried out collectively while preparing the Topak or Ketupat.
The term Tellasan Topak originates from the Madura language, which means the Ketupat Festival in the month of Shawwal. Ketupat, a key element of the tradition, symbolizes admitting mistakes and seeking forgiveness from one another. Moreover, the prayers during this tradition signify the harmonious blend of Islamic teachings and Indonesian customs.
- Ngejot (Balinese)
The tradition of Ngejot in Bali is a manifestation of the sense of brotherhood among the Balinese people, which involves the act of giving food to others. The word Ngejot means "to give," and for Muslims, this tradition is a way of establishing friendships with people of different religions. It is a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation, and it has evolved along with the diversity of the Balinese community. This closeness builds a sense of brotherhood and harmony in society.
It's worth noting that this tradition is not exclusive to Eid al-Fitr, as Hindus also practice it during the Yadnya ceremony. The family is obliged to give Pengwales (reply) to the kindness of other family members who have previously given help (Ngejot). This tradition serves as an expression of gratitude and promotes tolerance between different religious communities.
- Baraan (Riau)
During Eid al-Fitr, the people of Bengkalis in Riau have a tradition that has become iconic in their community. It involves visiting neighbors in groups to celebrate the arrival of the month of Shawwal. The homes visited are those of residents who participate in the celebration. The visits are usually spread out over several days, depending on the number of houses in the village, so the activity can last until the last week of Shawwal.
The host typically serves a variety of foods, such as ketupat, opor ayam, and various cakes. This tradition, called baraan, is rich in Islamic meaning as each house visited is accompanied by a prayer recited before or after eating. This activity promotes a sense of togetherness and strengthens the bonds of the community.
- Meugang (Aceh)
This tradition derives from the word "Gang" meaning "market". The significance lies in the fact that on regular days, the market is not frequented by many people, but as Ramadan and Hari Raya approach, people flock to the market. Hence the term "Makmu that gang nyan" (the market is very prosperous) or Makmeugang emerged. Some claim that the origin of this celebration dates back to Sultan Iskandar Muda, who expressed gratitude for welcoming Ramadan by slaughtering oxen/buffaloes and distributing the meat to the people.
The Meugang festival holds immense importance for the people of Aceh. On usual days, Acehnese people relish food obtained from rivers or seas, but during Meugang, they serve the finest beef or ox. Meugang is generally observed three times a year - two days before Ramadan, two days before Eid al-Fitr, and two days before Eid al-Adha. This tradition embodies the value of togetherness. It is a significant moment for families to unite, where relatives who have migrated will come back home and join in the Meugang festivities.
There are many other traditions that have not been captured in this article. However, we hope that whatever Eid tradition is carried out, this year's Eid will align with the readers' prayers and aspirations. Happy hospitality for those who celebrate, happy reunion with family at home. Tear down anger, return to nature. Happy Eid al-Fitr 1444 Hijri.
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Machdori, et al. (2022). Ngarak Barong, Tradisi Lebaran Betawi dan Strategi Pemertahanan Budaya Masyarakat Etnis Betawi di Kampung Sawah Bekasi: Kajian Semiotika. Jurnal Ilmu dan Budaya, vol. 43, no. 2, p. 223
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