The dates of the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, Ramadan, vary from year to year, as the Muslim calendar (Hijrah 1433) is based on a lunar cycle of 29 or 30 days. The exact date is determined by the sighting of the new moon. These lunar calculations lead to an official announcement by the government on the eve of Ramadan and Idul Fitri so that the faithful know when to begin and end the fasting month. In 2012, Ramadan is expected to start around July 20th and Lebaran will fall on 19-20 August, with “collective leave” on 21-22 August.

During the month of Ramadhan, Muslims must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, marital relations or getting angry during the daylight hours. In addition, those fasting are supposed to refrain from bad habits – lying, getting angry, using bad language as well as to be more diligent in prayer and give to charities. It is believe that fasting heightens spirituality and develops self-control.

The fast begins in the morning just before sunrise, at Imsak, and is broken at maghrib which falls at sunset. Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is one of the five pillars of Islam and an obligation for devout Muslims.
Those who are expected to fast include: adults (defined as those who have reached the age of puberty) and those who are sane. Those who are not expected to fast include: children, women having their period, travelers, the sick, those with long-term illnesses, pregnant or breastfeeding women and the mentally ill.

The faithful who fast awaken early in the morning to have a meal before subuh. In order to awaken the faithful, the call to prayer is sounded from neighborhood mosques. In addition, groups of young boys walk around neighborhoods beating on drums and other noise makers to awaken the faithful (and their neighbors) yelling out “sahur, sahur”.

The breaking of the fast at sunset is a very social occasion for which special foods are prepared for gatherings with family or friends. Upon hearing the sound of the bedug drum on the television or the call to prayer from the neighborhood mosque at sunset, the faithful know it’s time to break their fast, or buka puasa. This is usually done with a very sweet drink and sweet snacks. Maghrib prayers are made before a full meal is served. Taraweh congregational prayers are held in neighborhood mosques and at gatherings every evening at about 7:30 p.m. These prayers are not compulsory, but they are enjoyed by many.

The schedule for Imsak and Maghrib is posted in major newspapers and on the television throughout Indonesia, as well as published in handouts by major religious organizations. we can search from internet about the time or application on smartphone.

While it is expected that people will keep to their normal activities during the fast, needless to say the lack of liquid and food during the day and the unusual sleep and meal schedule soon take their toll. After the first week you may see that sleep and food deprivation cause those fasting to have reduced energy levels as well as finding it more difficult to concentrate on tasks.
Why does Islam oblige its followers to fast during Ramadhan each year?
– To develop compassion for the poor and needy who feel hungry every day.
– As a spiritually and physically cleansing experience. Just as in other world religions, fasting is seen as an opportunity to separate yourself from the things of this world and to concentrate on your relationship with God.
– To become closer to God by contemplating his will in your life.
– To build self-discipline and to become a better person.