Lebaran in Bali

What’s it like to celebrate Muslims’ big day in Bali?
Later this month, Muslims all over the world will celebrate the end of their month-long self-purification ritual of fasting, undertaken during Ramadam, with Idul Fitri 1438, which this year falls on June 25. Urban dwellers will return to their hometown en masse to hold prayers and reconnect with family followed by a big feast featuring ketupat (rice cake wrapped in woven palm leaf).
Due to its majority Hindu population, Bali will not experience rare sights such as in Jakarta where the streets are traffic-free during the celebrations. Around 1,6 million people are expected to be traveling out of Bali by road, and this year the airport is predicted to be even crowded than before with news of an additional 369 flights around Lebaran.
But of course, because of the almost week-long holidays, many people will travel to Bali as well. Almost every hotel will be offering their own irresistible Ramadan promos, such as Hard Rock Hotel which will have its Lebaran Funtastic Program (June 24 – 25), including a Sunset Market and fun games such as the Ketupat Rock Wall Challenge and a Sack Race. Entertainment and Ramadan Bazaars will never be in short supply in Bali, and in fact, this month many popular brands like 69Slam! and Rip Curl are having their annual sales, which fits right in with one of Idul Fitri’s traditions: buying new clothes. Meanwhile, for a culturally-rich fun day or night out, the must-see 39th Bali Arts Festival is taking place right now in Denpasar until July 8th.
That’s not to say that there aren’t particular Islamic traditions taking roots in Bali. In Kampung Islam, Kepaon, in South Denpasar, Loloan Village in Jembrana, and Pegayaman Village in Buleleng, there is an admirable tradition called Ngejot where during Idul Fitri people will be delivering their special home-cooked meals to their neighbors, including non-Muslim ones. (And Hindunese will reciprocate their generosity during their own big day, Galungan.) There’s also the megibung (sharing with others) tradition practiced in Singaraja where they will serve food on an enormous plate (or banana leaves in the past) and together people from all religious backgrounds or ethnicities are welcomed to eat together.
In a world increasingly divided, it’s heartening to know that religious inclusion is still happening in some pockets of the archipelago.
And the best thing is that Bali will be busy like never before with visitors from all over the world and around the corner coming for holidays. Enjoy.

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