Today is the first day of Ramadhan, otherwise known as Puasa, we think. You know what that means? Starting today, no more free lunch at the Freedom Institute for the month!
Ramadhan is the holiest of the four holy months in the Islamic lunar calendar. It commemorates the time when the Prophet Muhammed began receiving the Qur’an. During Ramadhan, observant Muslims are supposed to refrain from eating, drinking, having sex, and otherwise acting improperly; i.e. no swearing, no gossiping, etc. These prohibitions last from sun-up to sun-down, meaning that observant Muslims fast during the day. Special dispensations are given to travelers, small children, the sick, pregnant women, and others for whom fasting would be unhealthy or impossible. The symbolism of Ramadhan is purifying one’s thoughts, showing piety, and remembering the teachings of Muhammed. Additionally, fasting reminds wealthy Muslims of the plight of the poor, who often go hungry.
At the end of Ramadhan, known as Eid al-Fitr (in Indonesian, Idul Fitri), there is a three-day period of celebration where Muslims break their fasts and give money to the poor. Today is also considered a holiday, as many people return to their home towns and villages to begin Ramadhan with their families and friends.
This made finding a taxi yesterday very hard, and today, quite easy. Furthermore, the streets are relatively (and we mean relatively) empty today, while we were stuck in the worst traffic we’ve seen last night. Last night the muadhdhin (muezzins) were really out in force, waking us both up.
Today being an official holiday in Indonesia, the Freedom Institute is technically closed, but we came this morning anyway since we have special privileges. It turned out that the library really was closed, and no one was here, but we still can sit in our office and use the internet. Instead of reading original sources, I (TP) have been downloading articles while Julie entertains herself otherwise.
We are thinking of traveling to Bogor this weekend, so if there is a break in posts, that’s why.