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Jakarta looks deserted as fasting month draws to end JAKARTA - As the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadhan draws to close, Indonesia's capital city Jakarta's boisterous hustle and bustle receded as of Sunday because many residents returned to their home villages or towns to celebrate the Islamic festive days of Idul Fitri which will fall on Monday. According to local media reports, the quietness of the city was felt in the last three or two days.

Some streets in the city did not seem to be crowded except those leading to outside town such like the Cikampek toll road, which was packed with vehicles of all types and sizes. The condition of desertedness was also felt in some residential areas as many people have gone back to their home villages or towns by cars, bus, train, plane or even motor cycle.

Motor cycles appeared to have become a favorite means of transportation on account of efficiency and possibility. People afford to ride in convoys which also rendered a certain memory to the motorists. Meanwhile, the availability of more comfortable and affordable transportation has weakened the interest of Idul Fitri travelers in going home by train or bus.

Due to the hustle and bustle at railway stations and bus terminals during the annual exodus, thousands of people prefer to travel home by motorcycle or rented bus. The change has caused a 30-percent drop in the number of bus and train passengers this year. Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso said that an average of 17,116 revelers traveled by bus and train per day this year, down from 24, 451 per day last year.

However, the number of home-bound travelers using planes was reported to record an increase of 40 percent compared to last year 's figure as ticket prices are quite competitive amid a big number of flight operators in the country. "I think it's a good sign since it shows Jakarta's welfare is getting better and people can find alternative ways to get to their hometowns," Sutiyoso said.

The number of people leaving Jakarta for holiday this year is projected at 2.2 million, a slight increase over the 2.09 million recorded last year, according to the Jakarta Transportation Agency. To make sure road networks are safe for travelers as well as to maintain security in the capital, Jakarta police have deployed 17, 000 personnel at almost all strategic locations in the city.

Meanwhile, revelers in Kalimantan and Sumatra had to brave acrid haze and disruptions to air travel as they prepared for the holidays. The haze, caused by fires set to clear land for farming, shut down provincial airports in Central Kalimantan's Palangkaraya and Sumatra's Jambi. Some officials from local meteorological agency said the haze had restricted visibility to just 500 meters these days, forcing the airport to stay closed.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world and about 90 percent of its 230 million population are muslims. In urban life, most activities are organized according to purposes and interests, regardless of ethnicity, religion or even nationality. The mudik tradition shows that despite the increased degree of modernity, rationalism and individualism in urban life, there is still a sense of one's coming from a place, as part of a community of a locality, a place considered as "home".

During the holidays, nostalgic memories of the past will be retrieved; family members will cheer each other, tell stories, express thanks, ask for and give forgiveness, comfort the sad and unsuccessful, and/or praise successes and share happiness. Idul Fitri is a great occasion for people to reassert the importance of family and brotherhood. Islam reserves a special place for family relationships. Marriage remains a sacred ritual and social event. At a time when marriage as an institution has lost much of its credibility in many Western countries, such as in parts of Europe and more recently in the United States, Muslims still maintain that marriage is the only path for God's blessing in human relationships.

Idul Fitri provides an opportunity for such Muslims to be together with family before anybody else, an editorial story issued by the Jakarta Post daily said.



Posted in Ramadan @ 23 October 2006 04:44 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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