Hari Raya Idul Fitri, the end of Ramadan, marked the beginning of the Indonesian Lebaran holiday, and was a fantistic experience for me. I spent the week in Purwokerto, a few hours East of Bandung and West of Jogyakarta in Java.
One of the more interesting events for me was the prayer on the morning of the first day of Lebaran, the Sholat Idul Fitri. Masses gather at mosques all around, but the largest gathering occurs each year at the Alun-Alun, the large field in front of the town’s government center and central mosque. This is the tradition all around Indonesia, in every city or town. We woke at 5:30 in the morning to make our way there, finding a parking place for Suroto’s motor bike in the crowd. He donned his prayer mat and topi, and I stayed as inconspicuous as possible towards the back of the crowd.
The traditional clothing worn by women when praying made a sea of white, a massive wave sweeping across its surface as everyone bowed down in unison. After the formal prayer, however, the sea erupted in color as the coverings were taken off.