Happy Eid al-Fitr, everyone! It’s the fourth day of Lebaran (Eid al-Fitr), and I am happy that I can spend my fourth day of it with my big family! It is rare. Usually it is just two or three days-off for us employees, but for this year, the government sets the holiday for a week straight. Overjoyed, I am.
Every Lebaran, there are some classic matters that you will find in Lebaran in Indonesia. Some of them will make you feel very very very homesick if you happen to be not in the country when Lebaran begins.
- The gatherings
Friends. High school friends. Junior high school friends. Elementary school friends. Any of your childhood friends. Family. Nuclear family. Big family. Big big big family. You name it. This is the time of the year when you actually can gather with families or the friends that have lived in different areas, everybody goes back to their hometown. Everytime I open my Path, I see grinning faces in kaftans and kokos with joyful captions. The hashtag #lebaran in Instagram itself contains these kinds of photos, mostly selfies, instead of photos of the feast or the celebration.
2. The feast
You may eat rendang everyday in your life but you surely can’t refuse to eat rendang (again) or opor ayam when Lebaran comes. Those two are the mandatory when it comes to Lebaran feast. In some area I find that they have another unique food for their feast. In Banyuwangi, my boyfriend says, they usually cook tape ketan. I never see it in my Lebaran time. And in my place, usually my grandmother cooks sambel ati-pete and sayur tempe santan to accompany opor and rendang. Also, to entertain the guests who flood during Lebaran time, my family usually serve pempek and tekwan, brought directly from Bandar Lampung.
If you think the feast is “homesick material” enough, wait until people start to stroll around their hometown and post the food they eat to social media. Wait until those friends you have post pictures of sroto and mendoan as their hometown is in Purwokerto, or post Bebek Sinjay as they stroll around Surabaya. Each time I see those pictures, I weep. Take me there!
3. The kaftans
Different from ‘the gathering’, this section covers how people looooove to wear (new) kaftans and take #ootd photos and post them on social media. This is my yearly routine, to observe how kaftans are still happening since…6 years ago? I mean, okay, you wear dresses or long pants or vests on your daily basis, but when Lebaran comes suddenly it’s kaftan time. It is okay. It is beautiful. And actually, my all-time favorite is to watch the kaftans in family uniform. Yes, some families have uniforms for Lebaran. And I love love love to play a guessing game with myself, which color will they wear this year?
4. The question
In Lebaran family gatherings, Indonesians have a cruel opening line that every 20’s hates but keeps coming: Kapan nikah? When will you get married?
This is true. Sometimes they don’t even ask the “how are you?” question and just go straight to “kapan nikah?“. For example, an aunt comes and she says hi and you do ‘salim‘ her and then she will say, “Oh, sudah besar, ya. Sudah selesai kuliah, ya? Kapan nikahnya? Oh, look at you, you’re all grown up. You’ve graduated college, right? When will you get married?”.
A question that can only be beaten by “Hehe, iya, Tante. Hehe, yes, Aunty,” and a grin.
I honestly don’t hate this question. In my opinion, they actually only want to start a conversation. The question is just a result of their social awkwardness. Give them a credit to start a conversation, guys. I myself try sometimes to start a conversation with my aunts, uncles, grandmas, and grandpas, and most of the time I struggle. I don’t know what usually happens in their ages, and it feels just so awkward to actually ask about their lives.
For example, I have a cool uncle, and I ask about his job, and since he’s a director in a ministry (just found it out few years ago when I asked him this!) he’s hesitant to directly tells me about his job. Perhaps he’s shy, perhaps he doesn’t want me to think he’s so proud that he will blabber about it. I am used to straight-forwarded people, asking about jobs (skin-deep question) is a normal thing to do. I feel awkward. I just want to start a question and know more about him, but well, it is not as easy as mingling in a friend’s birthday party. No, not at all.
So, chillax. That kind of questions will keep coming in Lebaran. If you find yourself get too furious about it, watch this Alain de Botton’s video about how to remain calm.
Well, most of all, to me what actually identifies Lebaran in Indonesia is the takbiran. The repetitive takbir in mosques, until the prayer starts in the next morning, is a celebration ritual that perhaps I will miss most if I ever celebrate Eid al-Fitr abroad.