Minister of Industries Saleh Husin considers Idul Fitri, more popularly known as Lebaran, to be more than just a special time during which to rejoice after 30 days of Ramadhan fasting. Rather, it is a chance to reflect, to re-establish ties with family members, to show respect to senior statesmen and colleagues, and to re-commit to serving the community.
On the first day of Lebaran, Husin starts off with an Idul Fitri prayer held at a neighbourhood mosque near his official residence, the Widya Chandra ministerial housing complex in Central Jakarta. “Just like other families in Indonesia, in the morning I go to the mosque not far from home with my family to attend the Idul Fitri prayer,” says Husin in an amicable conversation with the Indonesia Tatler team one Saturday afternoon in May. Present for the cozy chat are his wife, Madam Andresca Saleh Husin, their son, Andzal Rizky Putra, and their daughter Deezal Annabel Putri.
Returning home from the mosque, the family then enjoys a hearty and specially prepared Lebaran meal. This traditional banquet consists of ketupat rice dumplings served with a varied assortment of condiments of poultry, beef and vegetable dishes, mostly cooked in spicy coconut milk. “We also have lontong sayur,” adds Husin, “and a special treat for the family: empek-empek, tekwan and fishcakes, plus an array of hors-d'oeuvres from Palembang, where my wife was born.”
After the meal, it is time for silaturahim: cordial visits to close family members and colleagues around town. “We mostly concentrate on visiting the elderly or those considered as seniors,” Husin explains. Cabinet ministers and statesman are among the top priority on the list of his visits: “Last year, on the first day of Lebaran we paid a visit to the Chairman of the People's Conscience Party, Hanura Wiranto, and Vice President Jusuf Kalla, although the president spends Lebaran in Aceh and the next day with his big family in Solo.”
In the afternoon, it is time for Saleh Husin and his family to hold an open-house event at his residence. This is when friends, colleagues and close relatives ask each other for forgiveness for wrongdoings in the past year through the tradition of “Minal Aidin wal Faizin”.
“We don’t spend Lebaran with my family back home in Rote in East Nusa Tenggara, as both my parents have passed away,” explains the cabinet minister. “Depending on where my parents-in-law would like to spend Lebaran, we might perform Mudik Lebaran and celebrate the Idul Fitri holiday with a one-day trip to see our relatives in Palembang.”
Mudik, also known as pulang kampung, is the typical homecoming tradition that occurs ahead of all major religious holidays. This strongly held tradition of visiting families last year saw the exodus of around 6.7 million people from the greater Jakarta area alone. Each year, the logistics of this mass migration escalate, with hardships and inconveniences endured by many travellers due to overcrowded trains and bustling airports. But such is the call to reunite with family members that this is a small price to pay for many, if not all.
In fact, Ramadhan fasting and Lebaran festives exert a powerful influence over the economy: spending on food and beverages rises dramatically. This spending boom directly influences Saleh Husin himself, who performs routine visits to related companies to ensure everything will run smooth, without a hiccup, and that stocks will survive the spike in demand.
But, at the end of the day, with economic considerations set aside, Husin strikes a more philosophical note about the deeper meaning of this special time. “Lebaran is a day of victory after 30 days of fasting—a period that we pass through withstanding hunger and thirst, as well as moments when we have to control our emotions and keep our temper.
“And for sure it has to be celebrated with family and friends whom we seldom meet. Lebaran is really a time when friends enjoy each other’s company and laugh together. It is a rare opportunity because each of us, in this modern time, are tied up with our own daily routines. It is a time for blessings and for reflection, but above all for joy.”
Text by Olly G. Santosa; Photography by Agung Wibowo; Make-Up by Mia Tefillah