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A humble Ramadan

Jakarta Post Editorial - April 2, 2022

Jakarta – Fasting is an act of deep self-control, and as Ramadan comes not only in the midst of the prolonged pandemic but also as the world faces dire crises stemming from the war in Ukraine, self-restraint is key for life to go on.

In its religious observances, Ramadan may be exclusive to Muslims, but as a season of heartfelt tradition, it may offer some more general insights.

In the third pandemic Ramadan, we seem to be in full acceptance that we cannot celebrate the holy month as festively or communally as before.

Hikes in food prices ahead of major holidays are a familiar affair in Indonesia, as many stock up on staples and other supplies, but this year's phenomenon is different. The prices of cooking oil, tempeh, tofu, chili, beef, unsubsidized liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), electricity and Pertamax fuel have gone up, even as many are still reeling from the financial difficulties of the pandemic.

Cooking oil is now hovering around Rp 20,000 (US$1.39) per liter, while Pertamax has climbed to between Rp 12,500 and Rp 13,000 per liter, up from the previous Rp 9,000 to Rp 9,400, depending on the region. Do not forget either the value-added tax (VAT) increase from 10 to 11 percent that came into effect on Friday and which will weigh on consumers as inflation hits a 22-month high.

Undeniably, this will be one the most expensive fasting months in recent memory.

Nevertheless, humans are clever and will find ways to endure the privation. But as Ramadan teaches adherents to fight the will of the flesh, we might consider lowering our consumption anyway.

A shortage of cooking oil? Take it easy on deep-fried meals; stir-fries are tasty as well. Or if you really crave some gorengan, tutorial videos have been circulating on social media on how to make coconut cooking oil at home.

Instead of fried tempeh or tofu with chili, try steaming some cassava or sweet potatoes to accompany your coffee or tea when breaking the fast.

Fuel prices astronomical? Stay at home. Look up some fun family games on the internet and spend some quality time with your loved ones.

Beyond that, why not simply return to basics, in whatever form that may be? Muslims, for one, may focus on wudhu (ablution) and prayer, follow the sunna as best they can and seek to embody the virtues that Ramadan represents. Many Muslims will focus on knitting their relationship with God and fellow humans, in particular those in need.

While we all try our best to stay afloat, it's high time for the government to sort out what it can. Putting extra burdens on people's shoulders is not a template to solve every challenge.

May we all receive an abundance of blessings. Happy fasting!

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2022/04/02/a-humble-ramadan.htm