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    » 08/18/2012, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Mass exodus of Muslims marks the end of Ramadan

    Mathias Hariyadi

    Millions of people leave the main cities for their places of origin to celebrate the event with family. Traffic jams block roads whilst transit prices rise. Hundreds are involved in road accidents. In the capital, streets are deserted as businesses close.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Jakarta residents have begun the traditional exodus towards their places of origin in Sumatra, Java and the other islands of the Indonesian Archipelago to mark the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and prayer, by celebrating Idul Fitri (19 and 20 August) with family and friends. Like Lunar New Year celebrations in China and Vietnam, the celebration of Lebaran (the nickname for the Muslim event) is a time of mass migration (mudik) for Indonesians who travel en masse to the towns and villages where they were born or where their families came from, a Biblical flight that chokes the roads, big and small, leading out of the big cities, full of cars and passengers patiently waiting.

    At the start of the mass exodus, a rush is on for the last ticket home on overcrowded buses, trains or planes. Despite government directives, transportation companies usually jack up the prices to extract the maximum profit. Yet, despite the price gouging, all tickets are sold for everyone wants to make it home for the holiday. And for those who do not take collective transport, there are always the long hours on a motorcycle; sometimes even 24 hours, twice the normal time.

    Not all is good at Mudik time. The number of road accidents explodes. According to figures from the Transportation Ministry, at least 398 people have died so far in this year's exodus. Yesterday alone, 58 people died on the road and more than a hundred were injured. Not much different from previous days when the death toll stood at 42, 54, 47 and 66.

    For those who remain in Jakarta, there is the consolation that they will have a deserted capital all to themselves. Although security forces will remain on alert, all other government services (and offices) will be closed for at least a week.

    Finally, not all Indonesian Muslim organisations and believers agree on the correct day for the celebration. For Muhammadiyah, the country's second largest Muslim organisation, Ramadan ends on 19 August. For the government and Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest (moderate) Muslim group, the holy month ends on 20 August.

     

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    See also

    20/08/2012 INDONESIA
    Anti-Christian attacks mark the end of Ramadan in Java
    This year's Idul Fitri was tarnished by bloodshed and violence. In Solo, a grenade was thrown at a police station; no victims were reported. In Bandung, police tells priest to stop Mass as many fear attacks by Muslim extremists.

    09/09/2010 INDONESIA
    Millions of Indonesians on the move for the feast of Idul Fitri
    The long holiday ends Ramadan. Traditionally Muslims return to their hometown to celebrate. Mile long traffic jams around large cities, long trips that last hours. Christians organize free refreshment centres.

    05/09/2011 INDONESIA
    Water shortages in Jakarta make life hard after Idul Fitri celebrations
    Kalimalamang dam is breached, causing water shortages in the Indonesian capital. Damages were repaired in four days, but problems persist. Thousands line up with buckets and cans. The presidential palace and parliament are also forced to ration water.

    23/10/2006 INDONESIA
    Millions on the move in Indonesia to celebrate the end of Ramadan
    In the world's most populous Muslim country, celebrations for 'Idul Fitri' begin today. Millions of faithful have hit the country's roads, railway stations and bus terminals to travel back to their ancestral towns and villages. High alert is in place in Central Sulawesi province.

    17/06/2015 INDONESIA - ISLAM
    Indonesian Ulema against sale of food and drink on the street during Ramadan
    For radical Islamists shops should must be left closed in the holy month of fasting and prayer. Non-Muslims, warns Mui leader, should respect the feelings and the dictates of Islam. Minister for Religious Affairs, believes "there is no reason" to close shops.



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