Muslims all over the world begin observing their annual month-long fasting today. For the 1.6 billion followers of the Islamic faith, the month of Ramadan will require them to make adjustments to their daily routine.
At 3am in the morning, mosques across Indonesia wake up the neighborhood – with the call for Muslims to have their pre-dawn meal. From daybreak till dusk, Muslims abstain from food, drink and sex during the month of Ramadan.
In majority Muslim countries like Indonesia, adjustments to the daily routine are more apparent. Restaurants stay open during the day but are more discreet in serving customers.
Despite being a majority Muslim country, Indonesia does not have laws that punish Muslims caught eating or drinking in public during Ramadan. And there is no fear of religious police – like in some countries – who go around apprehending Muslims for not fasting. Here, the society dictates what acceptable behavior is during Ramadan.
Even then, some things are not left to chance – lest the Muslim vigilante groups take matters into their own hands.
Authorities have issued clear orders to pubs, night clubs and karaoke lounges on their opening hours – usually shorter than normal. Some banks too have their opening hours adjusted – to allow their staff to be home in time for the breaking of fast. Such arrangements are more apparent in government departments – the country’s biggest employer.
Correspondingly, Jakarta’s notorious rush hour evening traffic starts earlier. And once the day’s fasting ends, night prayers begin at mosques across the country.
Such will be the routine for the month of Ramadan in big cities in Indonesia.