Tomorrow is the first day of Ramadhan this year in Indonesia. People are excited! Some are eating feverishly these past few days as they cannot do so in the daylight starting tomorrow. Some others are cherishing it by praying more and preparing some hampers to share to relatives and the unfortunates. Yet some others are preparing special meals to be served tomorrow after the fasting is over for the day. The atmosphere is full with chatters about the coming Ramadhan, and with excitement of all good things to come in this blessed month.
For those of you who are not familiar with Ramadhan, Ramadhan is the month when moslems are required to fast for one month. This act of self-restraint has much more profound meaning than meets the eye. And Indonesians are very keen on Ramadhan because it is also a good moment to meet with old friends and relatives during the so-called ‘break-fasting’ together or iftar.
This festivity during Ramadhan is one of the things I missed when I was studying in Linköping. Fortunately, there were other fellow students who experienced the same thing – having to fast for Ramadhan, but missing the atmosphere that usually comes along with it. Lucky me, my corridor mate, Alva, a Swedish-named-Bangladeshi-girls, also fast during Ramadhan. So we would wake each other up during sahur, and happily devour our meal during iftar together.
As it turned out, fasting in Linkoping wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be! Because the campus is such an international campus, I ended up finding more moslem friends to have iftar together. There’s Nurangez from Tajikistan, Yasser and Jafer from Pakistan, and many others. Occasionally, we would hang out at one of our corridors and have iftar together – serving meals from different parts of the world.
Apart from that, I also experienced a warm welcome and some sort of appreciation from other friends who are not fasting. Despite their questions or their blank look when I told them I am fasting for one month, they respected me and my decision. They try not to eat in front of me, or apologize if they are. They ask me if I’m okay with not eating and drinking for a whole day. And they tried to empathize by saying that in other religions & beliefs, they also fast – even though with different technicality.
Looking back, I realized that even though the atmosphere here in Indonesia is much more religious and encompassing the spirit of Ramadhan, but my two Ramadhans in Sweden were also filled with the same spirit – only enveloped in a different story. I felt the warmth, the difficulty of keeping my spirit up during the day, the joy of sharing iftar, and the excitement towards Eid – when Ramadhan ends.
So as I reminisced, I came to a conclusion. The atmosphere may be different, but the spirit and the warmth of Ramadhan will be the same.
Happy Ramadhan to those who celebrate it – both in Sweden or in their home countries!