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Ramadan in Yogyakarta: Sahur! Sahur! Sahur! YOGYAKARTA - It is around half past two in the early morning at a random Sunday in the holy month of fasting Ramadan. For a big part of the population this is the time to enjoy a nice meal, a part of the people leaves the nearby nightclub Republic for the lesehan* at Jalan Malioboro. A colorful group of young women in short skirts, high heels and often quite a lot of make-up and proper young men in a blouse quickly fills up the lesehan. They have just over one hour to eat their meal and enjoy a cigarette before the call to open the fasting for this Sunday is made by the imam from the mosque almost next door to the nightclub.

Much earlier that night, when it was actually still Saturday evening and not Sunday morning, the doors of the nightclub opened up as usual, around ten in the evening. Ramadan or not, this place is to serve as usual for those who are looking for a nights out in the very heart of Yogyakarta. Many other clubs, like those on Jalan Magelang and Jalan Solo, are closed. The main reason is tat they can not open their doors during this month because of regulation. A little bit strange, but that must have been thought about when setting the price for drinks during the rest of the year. The lonely exception here is Republic, that can keep its doors open throughout the entire month of Ramadan.

Jalan Malioboro, in downtown Yogykarta, at half past two, but then in the afternoon. Now it is a place bustling with people selling small goods from roadside carts, and tonight you will be able to eat a nice meal here. © indahnesia.com
Jalan Malioboro, in downtown Yogykarta, at half past two, but then in the afternoon. Now it is a place bustling with people selling small goods from roadside carts, and tonight you will be able to eat a nice meal here. © indahnesia.com

The many young people which would enjoy their last meal before opening the fast again later that evening - most of them don't fast however, but solidarity is still a nig factor here and the atmosphere is just fine as well - slowly started to trickle in group by group. Among them a group of eight; four foreigners - including me - and four Indonesian women. A group of people that just met earlier that evening, for the biggest part that is, in Rui's Café along Jalan Parangtritis in the southern part of the city.

With a good beat the night is kickstarted quite early already by a local band that plays popular Indonesian music in their own style. It just takes half a hour to get the crowd going here. At that moment it is fairly crowded. Republic happens to be the only place that has regular opening hours during the Ramadan period, which leaves all Yogyakarta party-goers with little choice outside going here this month. However this location is in the heart of Yogyakarta, it is not the first choice of many, since many drink (too much) and eventually have to drive themselves home.

When the evening has progressed and the female DJ has taken over once more from the local band, she did a 'trick' all of a sudden. In between the heavy beats she mixes a clear and loud voice: "Saaaahuuuuurrrr!!, Saaaahuuuuurrrr!!, Saaaahuuuuurrrr!!" The many people present go crazy when hearing that and demand more of this. Emphasizes are made to stress that it is still very early at the evening, way to early for sahur, the last meal before starting the fast of the day. A few minutes later once more that heavy voice "Saaaahuuuuurrrr!!", only to be mixed away with another piece of beating music.

New jugs of beer are put on our small and already very full - packs of cigarettes, a mix of glasses and some empty jugs - table, enough for the entire group at least. The ladies prefer a mixed drink with only three percent of alcohol, that's enough for them. One doesn't drink at all. Not because it is Ramadan, but because she doesn't drink at all. The others just join us like they would normally do as well. It is still dark, fasting didn't start yet for them. A strict enforcement of fasting is something most people don't do here, they work in cafes and do not have normal daytime working hours on their rosters as well.

The later it gets, the more extended our group becomes. There are always people, who are friends of friends, that end up here as well. No coincidence indeed, because the rest of these clubs are all closed but people still want to have some nighttime joy. Until two in the morning a new jug of beer often replaces the emptied once. The room is full of smoke as well, so taking some fresh air before sleeping is not such a bad idea after all, whether you are fasting or not. Sitting down on a lesehan to eat something after clubbing is more common practice than exception here.

Around half past two in the morning the time has come. With changing the music from a noisy to a more quiet tune the first lights are lit, which is a clear indication that it is time to head out. It doesn't take longer than ten minutes before the entire group has settled down on the lesehan across the street. The imam of Masjid Malioboro finished his sermons and recitations with the well-known words "Sahur! Sahur! Sahur!". Within a matter of seconds the rumor at the lesehan dies down as plates with food and glasses of hot tea are picked up.

Explanation
Lesehan: is a simple hawker restaurant where you sit on mats on the ground, usually the pavement, where you enjoy your meal directly.



Posted in Ramadan @ 26 September 2008 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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