As most Americans prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday next week, Jimmy and I are taking part in our first Indonesian holiday. Today is Idul Adha, or the feast of sacrifice, in Indonesia. Yesterday marked the beginning of this Muslim holiday with offices closing early, fireworks sounding across the evening sky, and a general sense of excitement in the air. As Jimmy and I biked around town yesterday afternoon, we were met with a greater than usual number of “Hello misters!” from kids running around. People were excited. This morning, lengthy prayers emanating from mosque loudspeakers marked the beginning of the holiday. Fireworks soon followed. At 6 am. Early morning takes on a whole new meaning here.
We were graciously invited to share a mid-morning meal at the home of our “ibu,” named Ma’ngal. Ma’ngal is basically our lifeline. She buys our food, cooks, cleans, washes our clothes, and is teaching me many Indonesian words. On top of all that, she is one of the most kind, generous, and open hearted people I have ever met. When you look into her eyes, all you see is kindness and generosity shining back. She’s truly a gem.
True to form, Ma’ngal invited us to share a holiday meal with family and friends at her house this morning. Ma’ngal is an excellent cook, so we were delighted to share in quite a spread. Because part of Idul Adha involves animal sacrifice and sharing meat, there is quite a bit of meat to be eaten around town right now, which for many people only happens once a year. Ma’ngal treated us to delicious and savory meat and chicken dishes, stewed jackfruit, fried pisang (bananas), sticky rice with a rich coconut sauce, and many other cakes and treats.
Much like in America, the meal ended with women and babies chatting over remaining food and empty dishes, while the men retreated to the living room (and eventually to a more interesting activity—cruising on motorbikes). For the rest of the day, people here will visit friends and relatives, share food, and rumor has it that a local band may play at the pantai (beach). Indonesia is a unique and lovely country; I feel fortunate to be participating in its traditions.