Ngabuburit: Unveiling the Tradition of Waiting for Iftar in Indonesia

By Meka Mona | 26, Mar, 2024
Ngabuburit: Unveiling the Tradition of Waiting for Iftar in Indonesia

Did you know that in Indonesia, there is a tradition known as ngabuburit in which people wait to break their fast during the month of Ramadan? This tradition actually contains various activities that people do until Maghrib time arrives, usually related to the culture in the area.

People typically begin conducting a variety of activities after Asr, which vary from seeking food and light drinks in order to break the fast, as well as unique activities carried out with friends or family. Usually, in the afternoon, the streets begin to fill up with people waiting for the time to break their fast.

There are unique variations of ngabuburit in Indonesia, which you might like to try while waiting to break the fast. Let's find out, shall we?

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1. Takjil Huntingtakjil hunting during ramadan

Image Credit: Umar ben on Unsplash

Takjil has the meaning of ‘hastening’ in the context of breaking the fast. In fact, this comes from the Arabic word “ajila” as a command not to delay breaking the fast when the time to break the fast arrives. However, the word eventually evolved, was established in the Indonesian language, and came to indicate something other than hastening, specifically light meals or “snacks” for breaking the fast. 

Takjil is a commonly shared culture in Indonesia, which usually includes the process of cooking them with family or friends, or buying them. People usually leave their homes in the afternoon to seek takjil. Every Ramadan, food stalls selling various types of traditional Indonesian takjil begin to emerge. As a result, you will be able to discover food to break the fast on almost every street corner. Takjil war in markets and roadside stalls has recently become a phenomenon in this year's Ramadan, making takjil seeking a popular activity and something that you must try to embody the spirit of a typical Indonesian Ramadan.

In terms of food, Indonesia boasts a variety of unique options. One of the specialties is kolak, a sweet food made from palm sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. Apart from that, there are also a variety of savory foods, such as fried foods, commonly known as gorengan. Usually, the takjil will be eaten at the beginning as soon as the Maghrib call to prayer sounds. Make sure not to overeat when breaking your fast!

Read more on gorengan and other common Indonesian street foods by checking out Indonesia's Pedagang Kaki Lima & Their Must-Try Dishes.


2. Attending the Majelis Taklim (Taklim Council)

In Indonesia, taklim groups are typically formed for the purpose of studying Islamic knowledge, interacting with other Muslims, and spreading the message of Islam. This Majelis Taklim usually begins after Asr and ends shortly before Maghrib.

The activities also vary, such as listening to preaching from an Ustad/Ustadzah (Islamic scholars), reciting the Quran together, studying the meaning of the Al-Quran and the prophets, and so on. The topics are also diverse and usually emphasize living from an Islamic perspective. Not only that, but sometimes there are question-and-answer sessions that can help us learn more if we listen attentively.

Attending the Taklim Assembly before breaking the fast is undoubtedly beneficial for those of us who wish to learn more about religion. Of course, the time spent waiting to break the fast will be much more meaningful if we sit in a taklim and learn valuable knowledge.


3. Sharing Takjiltakjil stalls

Image Credit: Umar ben on Unsplash

Sharing takjil or meals is a common practice in Indonesia. Usually, some goodhearted people offer free iftar meals on the streets. This cuisine was made in enormous amounts from morning until midday. Then they will provide drinks, snacks, and even heavier cuisine to drivers who pass, walkers, and local people.

The most valuable aspect of sharing this iftar meal is witnessing the happy faces of those who receive it. Not only the recipients, but the people who are participating and contributing to these good causes will also have the satisfaction of seeing these pure smiles. In this sense, the tradition of waiting to break the fast becomes much more meaningful. Of course, this action is highly honorable, particularly if accomplished with sincerity. 

Check out our recent fun interacting and breaking fast together with locals in Jakarta here!


4. Flying a Decorated Kitedecorated kites

Image credit: Rene Vincit on Unsplash

One of the unique activities while waiting for the time to break the fast in Indonesia is playing with decorated kites. The activity is open to all ages, including children and adults. Gathering in the field with family and friends while flying colorful kites in the afternoon while waiting for the time to break the fast is a really enjoyable pastime that will make you forget about your hunger and thirst for a little while. Observing a group of colorful kites in the twilight sky during Ramadan is a breathtaking sight.


5. Sailboat Racing

Did you know that in Surabaya, Indonesia's capital city in the province of East Java, there is a tradition of sailboat racing that is held during the month of Ramadan? This activity is usually held while waiting to break the fast. This involves not a real full-fledged big sailboat, but a mini sailboat! This sailboat will be decorated colorfully by participants before the competition is held. 

Then these beautiful and colorful sailing boats will compete on Kenjeran Beach to reach the finish line with a distance of approximately 7 kilometers. The unique thing about this competition is that the sailboats being competed do not use engines but only rely on attached sails. Therefore, participants also have to pay attention to the sails of the boat so they can move their bodies with the help of the wind. This is a unique and fun activity to fill the time waiting to break the fast.  


6. Kumbohan - Hunting 'Drunk' Fish

In Bengawan Solo, specifically in the region of Central Java, there is a tradition of catching 'drunken' fish known as kumbohan. This custom is always something that the people of Solo look forward to when Ramadan approaches. The reason for this is that dozens of residents will congregate and wait for the water in the Bengawan Solo River to rise to the surface, at which point 'drunk' fish will appear due to the rising water.

Rising water is frequently caused by a shift in water that was previously clear becoming hazy. Frequently, some lucky residents get handed various sorts of fish, which include bandeng or milk fish, tawes fish or Java barb fish. This kind of activity is a fun way to pass the time after breaking the fast. 


7. Spending Time at the Mosquequran recitation

Image credit: Utsman Media on Unsplash

When waiting for Iftar, Indonesians enjoy spending time in the mosque yard. Several individuals usually sit and converse after Asr prayer time, waiting for the moment to break the fast. The warm and calm environment surrounding the mosque, whether we are speaking or simply staying, truly reconciles the heart and mind. 

Several activities, such as learning the Quran, giving Islamic education, and preparing to break the fast together at the mosque, are common during Ramadan in Indonesian society. Apart from that, relaxing at the mosque might also include reading the Quran and performing dhikr. Waiting for the time to break the fast will become more solemn. 


8. Train Spotting

Another unique pastime when waiting for the time to break the fast in Indonesia is 'watching trains go by' or what we know as tran spotting. In Bojonegoro Regency, there is one unique recreation for residents which is watching trains pass by. Starting at 16.00, residents will assemble around the tracks' edge to simply watch the train. Children and teenagers began to enliven the region. Even if you're just 'watching' the train pass by, there's a unique joy when you see it while sitting and relaxing with your family, waiting to break the fast.

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