The Islamic fasting month of Ramadan will commence on April 13 and will culminate in the Idul Fitri or Lebaran celebration on May 13-14. The impact of the fasting is felt by the entire community, including the non-Muslim local and the expatriate community in Indonesia. This month we give you some hints on how you can handle the changes that occur in daily life during the fasting month.
- Lack of liquid and food during the day and the unusual sleep and meal schedule cause those who are fasting to have reduced energy levels. You may wish to provide extra vitamins for your household staff to ensure that they have adequate nutrition and allow them to take a nap during the day.
- An increased level of patience and tolerance is required when dealing with workers who are fasting as you may notice a reduction in work efficiency during Ramadhan and staff may become forgetful and have difficulty in concentrating on tasks. It is best to schedule difficult tasks before or after Ramadhan to achieve your workers’ best efforts.
- Your live-in household staff will arise very early in the morning to prepare their pre-dawn meal and they may try to complete their heavy chores early in the morning just after they’ve eaten. If their pre-sunrise noise bothers your family, ask your staff to try to reduce their noise levels while your family is still asleep.
- Staff who are not normally diligent in observing the obligatory five prayers a day, may begin to pray regularly during fasting month, necessitating their absence from work for about 5-10 minutes.
- It would be considerate to refrain from eating or drinking in front of others that are fasting as much as possible and you may feel uncomfortable eating or drinking before your fasting staff or friends. However it is not expected that non-Muslims join in fasting.
- If you need to entertain an Indonesian who is fasting schedule a Buka Puasa (fast breaking) gathering instead of a lunch meeting.
- Your driver will appreciate it if you can let him break the fast in the car with a drink of water and a sweet snack, if he is driving you home at sunset.
- You may be awoken early in the morning by the enthusiastic young people parading noisily through the neighborhood. Equally as disruptive are the illegal fire crackers that are often let off throughout the day and evening. It is very important not to become angry and tell them to be quiet!
This would be extremely offensive, so you will have to just endure it.
- Do not speak harshly with those fasting, as if they get angry or have negative feelings towards others it invalidates their fasting for that day. A polite, tolerant respect for those who are fasting is the best attitude for non-Muslims.
- On the evening of the final day of fasting the entire Islamic population erupts into a jubilant and noisy celebration which is known as Malam Takbiran. Beating drums and exploding fire crackers from dusk till dawn mark the end of the fast so that only particularly heavy sleepers will get a good night’s sleep. It’s best to stay out of the CBD area on this evening as the traffic can come to a total standstill.
- A government regulation requires that a one-month bonus be paid to all household staff and salaried employees in offices and factories near the end of the fasting month. This bonus should be given a couple of weeks before Lebaran in order to allow them plenty of time to buy new clothes, gifts and special treats to take home for their relatives in the village.