Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower

Amsterdam view from Amsterdam Tower
The view from Amsterdam Tower

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hari Raya di Kampung Orang Lain (Eid ul-Fitr celebration in Vietnam)

Eid ul-Fitr (Hari Raya Idul Fitri) or ‘Lebaran (more commonly referred to in Indonesia) – has just passed last week.  However its mood is still strongly felt. Assuming most people is back to work this week i.e. yesterday on Monday.  Business activity is back i.e. banking transaction resumes as normal.

Personally, I have two reasons why I will always remember this Lebaran:
1- I celebrate it in Vietnam, #
2- back home in Indonesia, Idul Fitri was celebrated/pushed back a day which was on 31st instead of 30th August as most 2011 calendars assumed. ##

Below, I put the explanation for reason no 2 first, then followed by no 1, with a special purpose. So my story flows smoothly. #smile#.

Pic was taken a few days before Lebaran

## Reason no 2

As info, the decision for Idul Fitri was based on its calculation of the location of the moon.  I remember that a few times in the past, there was a difference in determining the dates of Idul Fitri, between the Indonesian’s government and the Muslim organization.  However it has never damaged the Idul Fitri spirits.  Furthermore, other countries such as Vietnam also celebrated it on 31st August.

However, of course, such announcement has changed people’s plan to celebrate the holiday and the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.  Some Lebaran meals that supposed to be served for Lebaran day on 30th August were enjoyed as the last Sahur (meal consumed pre-dawn before fasting).  Many funny jokes about how to preserve the Lebaran special meals that have been cooked by the ibu-ibu (housewives) -:)   Mmmm… I imagined the extravaganza super-duper delicious Lebaran dishes that I would miss this year.  #Ngebayangin hidangan Lebaran yang super enak nendangnya tapi ngak bisa dinikmati tahun ini#

Mosque in Dong Dun Street is locatedstrategically. See the blue gate of the Mosque? Building on the left is Sheraton Hotel. Building behind it is Caravelle Hotel.

# Reason no 1

As a rookie in Ho Chi Minh City, to satisfy my curiosity, I seek some info about Muslim activities in this country.   Vietnam's April 1999 census showed 63,146 Muslims and 9% in Ho Chi Minh City.  Source – Wikipedia

I then compared the experiences of Ramadan between in Indonesia and Vietnam.  It is a different atmosphere of course.

Idul Fitri decorations in Jakarta.

In Indonesia, especially Jakarta:
  • At the beginning of Ramadan most of the shopping malls and hotels are already decorated with beautiful Islamic decorations and music, as if there is a competition to win the best décor.  One 5 star hotel in South Jakarta had Middle Eastern decoration in their club house.  Guests can enjoy Buka Puasa (break the fast) sitting in the Middle Eastern style rugs/carpets and round cushions.   Decoration became perfect with Aladdin oil lamp, lanterns and even a camel..!   Food is variety between Indonesian and Middle Eastern dishes.  Guests including non-Muslim enjoyed both food and its ambiance.

  • Please do not try to walk in to a restaurant for Buka Puasa without reservation. Most likely you would be put on a waiting list with an uncertain waiting period. Because most restaurant is normally full, both lower-class restaurants and upscale. Many companies use Ramadan as an occasion to networking with their clients or to gather with their employees.

  • Closer to Lebaran, ibu-ibu (housewives) started to prepare delicious dishes like Ketupat (rice cake), Opor Ayam (chicken cooked in coconut milk), Rendang Daging (West Sumatra beef curry/beef cooked in coconut milk), Sambal Goreng Hati Ayam (chicken liver cooked in red chili), Vegetable Curry, etc… mmm… #air liur netes #drooling
Left: Kolak Pisang. Right: Es Kelapa Muda

In Vietnam, I could not find any sign of the sweet tasty dishes for Buka Puasa such as kolak pisang (braised banana in palm sugar sauce), bubur sumsum (rice flour pudding), es campur (mix of shaved ice, fruit, syrup and condensed milk), es kelapa muda (coconut juice), etc.   Juga tidak ada tanda2 rombongan orang mudik, kecuali orang Indonesia yang tinggal disini mudik ke Indonesia.

Ready to eat the fish and shrimp curry

Malam Takbiran
(the night before Idul Fitri, Takbiran prayer is chanted)

In order to satisfy my being away from home, I spent Malam Takbiran by having dinner at the only Indonesian restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City.  Nhà hàng Sari Indo, 70 Mạc Đĩnh Chi, P.Đakao, Q.1. Website:
Walking into this place, I already felt like home.  Servers were smiling sincerely, helpful and professional.  “Mbak-nya” (waitress) asked me if she should serve the Lumpia Semarang first as appetizer and others come later.   *BTW Lumpia Semarang is fried spring roll: eggroll with bamboo shoots, chicken and prawn filling*.   At some other restaurant, I might have the main course first, drink and appetizer comes later.

Left: Lumpia Semarang. Right: Ayam Penyet
I could tell that some Indonesian customers were also enjoying the food.  We ordered Ayam Penyet (a fried chicken, lightly smashed using a pestle in a mortar laced with sambal/chili), Udang (Shrimps) and Fish curry.  No sign of ketupat (rice cake) but I was happy.  
After dinner, we went around passing the Haji Salim Mosque in Dong Du Street next to Sheraton Hotel.  Some people were in the front/terrace of the Mosque perhaps doing preparations for the Idul Fitri the next day.

This mosque is one of 12 mosques serving Ho Chi Minh City.  This Central Mosque was built in 1935.  It was originally constructed for worshipers from southern India then resident in Saigon, but now Muslims from as far as Pakistan and Indonesia come to pray.  See more info:

Three flags on top of the Mosque

Lebaran Day

Around 8 am on 31st August, people from different nationalities came to the Mosque in Dong Du Street: Vietnamese, Indonesians, Indians, Pakistani, Malays, Middle Easterners, etc.  I could guess from their languages and dresses.  Men, women and children dress up with their own national clothes.  I saw a Vietnamese woman in áo dài (Vietnamese national costume) and selendang (long scarf), Malay men in their sarong, Indonesian women in kebaya (Indonesian women’s traditional blouse) or baju kurung (a knee-length blouse) and selendang (long scarf), Indian men in their national dress, a young Middle Eastern man in his long sleeve business attire and I bet he supposed to go to work after the mosque - He looks like a professional banker.  There was a boy in his national dress, and a hat, all in white, – he looks like a young prince from Middle East.

Prayer started around 8.30am and followed by preaches which finished around 9.00am.  As the prayer was held inside the Mosque, there was no newspaper scattered in the yard.  In most Mosque or places that were used for Idul Fitri prayers in Indonesia i.e. public or soccer fields, some people might have value added benefit by collecting and sell the unused newspapers after the prayer.

After the prayer, some people gathered for a while at the Mosque yard while waiting for their family members, greeted each other by shaking hands and had the ritual Idul Fitri wishes “Minal Aizin Wal Faizin” or “Mohon Maaf Lahir dan Batin”.  It means asking forgiveness for past wrongs and attempt to turn over a new leaf.

Personal Notes

As I had no plan for any Halal Bihalal which is a special ritual during Idul Fitri and during this Muslim-Indonesians visit their elders, in the family, the neighborhood, or their work, and show respect to them.  They will also seek reconciliation (if needed), and preserve or restore harmonious relations) – I went to a coffee shop near the Mosque and enjoyed a cup of cappuccino and a scone, sent text messages and bbm’s with relatives and friends in Indonesia… Gee.., this texting made me busy the whole morning! They asked about my experience in Lebaran day in Vietnam, etc… also I needed that cappuccino to cool myself down and prepare this writing for my blog.  This writing was not extremely easy as it brought back my previous Lebaran experiences with relatives and friends which definitely it made me missing them -:)

Pic was taken in Nov 2010 during a Halal Bihalal (ex Amex reunion) in Jakarta. I was at the back wearing green top.
Yes, I felt slightly guilty of not being with my mom and nephews/niece.  However I knew that they are doing fine, I ordered some Lebaran cookies prepared by my girlfriend in Jakarta. I gave some THR (Lebaran bonus) for my nephew and niece, including some to buy new clothes for Lebaran.  I spoke with Mom in the evening to chat and to ask if there is any interesting news about her Lebaran activities.

However, myself, I celebrated Lebaran this year by cooking Beef Rendang a couple of days before Lebaran using Bumbu Rendang (a sachet of seasoning) that I bought from Hero supermarket in Jakarta.  I paid zakat fitrah at a neighborhood mosque near mom’s house when I was in Jakarta in the last mudik (going back home).

(Far right side) is me and others are my ex colleagues in TCI. Mohon Maaf Lahir & Batin.
I believe that Idul Fitri spirit comes from the heart.  Wise man says it is a time for celebration but also a time for reflection.  It can be celebrated wherever in this world, whatever to eat during this festive season, with or without Ketupat, with or without Kaastengel or Nastar cookies, with or without udik, as long as have a good heart, being humble and forgive others who might have hurt our feelings, as Idul Fitri is also known as kembali ke fitrah, like a baby who has just been born.

It is never too late to wish everyone a Happy Eid ul-Fitr - Mừng đại lễ Idil Fitri - Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri - Mohon Maaf Lahir & Batin.

Coming up next – Trip to Ha Long Bay.... Vịnh Hạ Long… La baie d'Ha-Long….!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment