Indonesia's Eid confusion: To fast or not to fast

  • Reuters, Jakarta
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  • Updated: Aug 31, 2011 01:26 IST

Indonesia's government has declared that the moon is not in the right position for the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan to end as expected on Tuesday, causing hungry disappointment in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Indonesians, 90% of whom are Muslim, celebrate the end of Ramadan or Eid al-Fitr festival with a feast and new clothes, but they have been forced to put their delicacies back in the cupboard for one more day.

Housewife Nur Arifah did not expect the announcement, which came late on Monday, and got up early that day to cook plenty of stewed beef for her family. "My nephews and nieces have all gathered to celebrate, yet it's the wrong day."

Many other Muslims, who were set to start eating during the day, returned to fasting between sunrise and sunset on Tuesday, while shopping malls pushed their closing holiday to Wednesday. The position of the moon determines the start and end of Ramadan, and Muslim bodies told the government the moon was too low to herald Eid al-Fitr.

But members of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second biggest Islamic group, are still celebrating since some astronomers say it falls on that day. Other nations, such as Saudi Arabia, are also celebrating. Last year, Islamic authority admitted it had got the direction of Mecca wrong, causing havoc since it meant mosques were all facing in the wrong direction for devotees to pray facing Saudi's holy Islamic city.


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