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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Selamat Hari Lebaran / Happy Eid Al Fitr

It's that time of the year again, and may I say one of the best time of the year in Indonesia: The Idul Fitri (Eid-Al Fitr)

Picture this: dining table is heavily laden with hearty and savoury dishes: chicken, beef, vegetables. At the living room various kind of cookies in small jars are neatly arranged on the coffee table. Cold sweet flavored water (usually done with syrup) and/or bottles of soda lining up in the refrigerator, to be served to the guests. Small change is neatly tucked inside a bag, ready to be given out to the delightful children. Hellz yeah, this is the way to p-p-p-party!

The Idul Fitri holiday (I am using the Indonesian spelling which I am familiar with) is a special day to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, where the Muslim endure 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting. It is celebrated by Muslims around the world, but my most vivid recollection is when I spend it in Indonesia. Good feelings all round, good food to boost, and meeting your family and friends in a relax and happy manner (dispute and disgruntles can be continued after the day, but not on the day). I couldn't think of a better way to spend a day.

Atatata.... wait.... You're going to close this article just because I am talking about Muslim holiday? Yeah yeah, you think they are a bunch of terrorist that marries bride-children and have a deadly affection towards bombing and hate democracy in general and yadda yadda yadda. You know what, you haters need to chill out and start opening your eyes. I mean, dawn-to-sunset fasting, man. No food OR drink from dusk till dawn, and also full emotion control too: you can't get angry or crying or saying/thinking hateful stuff. And this needs to be done from dawn to dusk (roughly about 14 hours in Indonesia, can reach up to 18 hours in US). Seriously, I got panic attack when I only found a jug of milk in my refrigerator, let alone no food or drink in the whole 14 hours; and the only time I can spend with my emotion checked and fully in control is when I am locked in my room with no internet (internet trolls and shoddy biased news always get the best of me).

Since I have had the pleasure to see these fasting in action ever since I was a little girl, I can totally relate on their joy and happiness when the Idul Fitri day finally come. They have mastered their "wants", and thus conquering themselves and defeating their vices. I read all my friends' Idul Fitri messages in Facebook (which commonly run as: "Happy Idul Fitri, Please accept our apologies for any wrong doings") with sheer joy. I am just so happy for them, and so proud of them too. My family used to visit the Muslim side of our family, and when they move out to Bali I am always invited to my friends' Idul Fitri celebration. It's the time for family, and whether they have 6-7 lavish dishes on the table or a simple 2-3 dishes it didn't matter. What matters to me is the warm smile on their faces and the welcoming look in their eyes. It's a happy day and they invited me to be a part of it. The feeling is priceless.

Sure, this holiday is not perfect. Just as any kind of holidays these days, the Idul Fitri is also rife with overspending and for some is turned into a pitiful charade where these misguided souls think they need to show-off their wealth and "compassion" in order to be better than others. Outrageous shopping spree for Idul Fitri outfits, new phones and accessories to match, redecorating house to look nicer for guest, excessive purchase of meat and poultry and other kind of foods, you name it we got it. But it was not the holiday to be blamed. This happens on Christmas too, and Balinese Nyepi/Silence day or Galungan, and I believe in any major holidays celebrated around the world. It was never the holiday or the religion, it was the human. Always the human. Their insecurities and competitive streaks blinded them, making them focused on being better than others and forget what the Idul Fitri is all about: quality time with family and friends, and sharing joy and happiness in the name of God.

I won't deny that there are a number of self-proclaimed Muslim out there that is spreading threats and terrors. In the news I heard about the Muslim group in Indonesia that attacked and hurt others for being "disrespectful" during the Ramadan month, even setting up a bomb at Buddhist temple. I myself have seen quite a few shows where a supposedly Muslim priest in Indonesia telling bad things about other religion, even saying that one must not accept Idul Fitri greeting from someone with different religion. It hurts me bad. Yet to me it was never the religion, it was the human. Name your religion and you will find extremists and haters like they are, hidden under the protection of verses and hymns to satiate their own black twisted desires. And some did it borrowing the name of Democracy or Human Rights, or whatever excuses they can come up with. Same man different hats. It is the blood-thirsty hateful human that you should shunned, not one its many excuses to do wrong doings. 

To me Islam is best represented in the Ramadan month, and the Idul Fitri day at the end. The story of perseverance and dedication, the celebration of faith and inner strength, the time for family and friends. Closing my eyes, 8000 km away from Indonesia, I can visualize the excited frenzy as my mom and sisters in Bali cooked various Idul Fitri dishes in Betawi style as a tribute to my late grandmother who was a Muslim. I can visualize the excitement my friends' little children for a day of feast and merry-making ahead of them. I can visualize the glee and pride as the Muslim break their final fast. I can visualize the overwhelming joy and sense of humbleness as they kneel down to pray in the morning of Idul Fitri, silently saying: "Yeaaaaah God I did it!!!!!" (oh wait, that's probably me.). To all my Muslim friends, families, and any random Muslims that happen to read this article: Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri, Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Batin. Love you all. 

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