JAKARTA: As millions of people in Muslim-majority Indonesia are observing the fasting month of Ramadan, members of the Buddhist community have been extending their support and preparing iftar meals for those breaking their fast at dusk.
Muslims comprise nearly 90 percent of Indonesia’s 277 million population, but the multifaith nation officially recognizes six religions, including Buddhism, which has an estimated 2 million followers. Since Ramadan began last week, many Buddhist temples across the country have been extending support to their Muslim neighbors.
In Cirebon, West Java province, members of the Dewi Welas Asih Temple congregation have come together to prepare iftar meals throughout the fasting month.
They hand out meal boxes around 4 p.m., right before sunset, hoping to reach the people who need their support the most. Each box consists of rice, sauteed vegetables, fried eggs and either chicken or beef, all home-cooked.
“It doesn’t matter what religion you have, if there is one good moment to do good deeds, all of us here at the Dewi Welas Asih Temple believe that it’s very wise, right, and honorable to give back, even if it’s not on your own religious holiday,” Yulia Hiyanto, who has been organizing the temple’s iftar activities, told Arab News.
“When we are able to give back and it is accepted with a smile…my heart feels something that can neither be described nor bought, and I hear this from other friends too, this feeling of utmost happiness.”
In a similar spirit, the youth of the Dhanagun Temple in Bogor, also in West Java, are dedicating their Sundays throughout Ramadan month to reach out as many people as they can across the city and hand out snacks commonly eaten in Indonesia to break the fast.
“It is our hope that our program can help people in need, especially Muslims in Bogor, who are now fasting,” said Hansen, the temple’s youth leader.
“Ramadan is a good month, a month filled with love…That is why we want to join in sharing kindness and love.”