Happy Idul Fitri and a shoutout to family

31 Aug

Today was Idul Fitri. Hoorah! Or rather “Selamat Idul Fitri! Mohon maaf lahir dan batin.” Which translates into something like “Happy Idul Fitri, please forgive me [for any times I have wronged you] from my body and heart.” Today was all about family and celebrating a fresh start. It is, from what I understand, the largest holiday here in Indonesia and officially concludes Ramadan aaaannnd… August. Boy howdy!

Not surprisingly, it started off early and with a bang.  I can’t pinpoint the exact time I reached consciousness, but it must have been between 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m-ish. The fire crackers were already beginning to pop outside, and they wouldn’t cease for the rest of the day. (Sounds like an opening line to a book, no?)

I don’t think I mentioned this before but all throughout Ramadan people have been getting into the spirit by blasting firecrackers…every night.  I quickly concluded it wasn’t the sound of gunshots, but it did take me several days to realize that it also wasn’t an unprecendented rise in motorcycle backfire incidents. Well today the firecrackers where sprinkled throughout the day rather than sequestered to night alone.

I got ready and accompanied my host mother and host sister to the mosque. I rocked a jilbab for the first time out of respect for the occasion and going to the mosque.

At the mosque the entire community gathered.  They prayed. Someone spoke about being a good person, helping the poor and all that jazz. Meanwhile, some found it was still necessary for firecrackers to intermittently be set off.  The service ended. More firecrackers. Firecrackers.

Once we returned home, my family exchanged embraces and asked each other forgiveness. It got a little bit emotional up in here, which caught me off guard. I wasn’t sure where things were headed from there. So, naturally, I went into my clueless state where I just kind of stand around awkwardly wondering how I should act or what I should do while everyone else goes about their business and until I can figure out what’s going on. A series of tamu, or visitors, began showing up. They would enter, my host family would greet them and encourage them to sit down and eat. They would ask forgiveness, chat for a few moments, and then the family clans would be on their way to the next shindig.  It was like the framework for speed dating applied to the holidays.

After several rotations of visitors, we hit the road and were off to visit grandmother’s house. When we arrived, she wasn’t there. I thought this to be peculiar, shouldn’t she be expecting us? So we headed over to an uncle’s house where we spent a good portion of the day, and wouldn’t you know it? We found grandma there too.

After we got home, around 6 p.m., I was ready to call it a day when more tamu, showed up. The rest of the evening played out similarly to the activities of earlier that day.

What sort of baffled me about the whole thing was there seemed to be no method to how you visited people or how you avoided missing people who came to visit.  When family comes to visit like this, esspecailly from farther away towns, this is called mudik. Apparently it will continue to take place over the next few days as the leberan holiday continues creating a spike in movement and travel around Indonesia. My host father says this one time a year is likely the only time you’ll see family from far away. So I can’t, then, understand how people just kind of drop by and if you’re there, you’re there and if you’re not, you’ll just have to wait to see the family til next year.

Regardless of the odd way things played out, the general mood very much so reminded me of holidays back home. Particularly Easter and Christmas. As awesome as my host family and their extended family is,  it was hard for me to not wish that I was with my family and hanging out with my cousins and aunts and uncles instead. It was hard being in a familiar situation, but without the familiar faces. So a shoutout to the family. I love and miss you!

2 Responses to “Happy Idul Fitri and a shoutout to family”

  1. Debby September 10, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    We miss you so much, the fam and especially the momma girl !!! ; – )

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cutting the cow « - November 6, 2011

    […] holiday. (Also referred to as Korban ’round these parts.) It was more low-key than the Idul Fitri celebrations were, but it was altogether intense in a completely different way. The occasion centers around the […]

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