Mon, 10 Jan 2000

Solemnity marks Idul Fitri festivities

JAKARTA (JP): Millions of Muslims in the capital celebrated the Idul Fitri holiday on Saturday and Sunday in a solemn and peaceful mood.

Mosques, sports fields and parking lots were packed on Saturday morning as people said the Idul Fitri prayer.

With almost two million Jakarta residents celebrating the holiday in their respective hometowns, most of the city's main thoroughfares were empty during the two days. Many shops and shopping centers were also closed.

Rain hit several spots in the capital on Saturday morning.

There was heavy traffic congestion in Pasar Rebo in East Jakarta, and Pasar Minggu, Kalibata, Pondok Labu, Lebak Bulus, Kebayoran Lama and Ciputat in South Jakarta as families thronged recreation areas, such as Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta, Taman Ria Senayan recreational park in Central Jakarta, Indonesia in Miniature Park in East Jakarta and Ancol Dreamland in North Jakarta.

Heavy traffic was also observed on Sunday.

The Indonesia in Miniature Park received a total of 40,515 visitors on Saturday and 80,000 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, police and hospital staff said there were few crimes reported over the two days.

However, an ax-wielding gang struck on Saturday at what is locally known as the Coca-Cola crossroads in Rawasari, East Jakarta. They smashed the windows of several cars, making off with valuables of the vehicles' occupants.

The celebration of Idul Fitri, or Lebaran as it is known locally, to mark the end of the month-long Ramadhan fasting month started on Friday evening when thousands of Muslims, particularly teenagers, took to the streets in trucks, buses and private cars in the takbiran (recitation of Allah is great) parade.

Besides using loud speakers, most of the people banged bedug (drum), blew paper trumpets and set off firecrackers to voice their joy.


Like the New Year's street celebrations, most of the crowd flocked to the huge Monas park in Central Jakarta, which later led to rival groups engaged in throwing firecrackers.

At least two people, Agus Muryadi of Setiabudi, and Rachmat Hidayat of Cawang, both 18, were severely wounded by firecrackers at the park.

One man, Solchin, 19, was wounded in the leg after falling from a speeding truck during the takbir.

Antara reported that 25 local artists, including Eko Patrio, Monica Oemardi and Viny Alvionita, also was part of a convoy to visit veteran artists and distribute gifts to poor children.

For the Idul Fitri prayer on Saturday morning, President Abdurrahman Wahid, First Lady Sinta Nuriyah, Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri, her husband Taufik Keimas and their families prayed along with tens of thousands of others at Istiqlal Grand Mosque in Central Jakarta.

Former president Soeharto and his family said the prayer at At-Tin Mosque in the Indonesia in Miniature Park complex.

Soeharto was accompanied by his half-brother businessman Probosutedjo at the prayer, which was also attended by local residents.

Many people tried to shake hands with Soeharto after the prayer but were prevented by a heavy security detail.

Probosutedjo did not reply when asked by reporters about Soeharto's plan for Idul Fitri.

After the prayer, Abdurrahman and Megawati celebrated their first Idul Fitri as the country's leaders with an open house to receive well-wishers, including members of the public, at their respective official residences.

The President's visitors included Umar Wahid, his younger brother and chief of the presidential medical team. He led his relatives -- including a distant uncle whose duty is to keep all of Abdurrahman's favorite kris -- in greeting the first family.


After receiving relatives and family friends, the first family received Cabinet members and ambassadors. Singapore's ambassador to Indonesia Edward Lee was their first foreign guest.

The presence of former military commander and minister of defense and security Gen. (ret) Benny Moerdani attracted attention. Benny was accompanied by his close friend, businessman Robby "Ketek" Sumampouw.

Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security Gen. Wiranto and wife Uga also attended.

The Vice President's official residence on Jl. Diponegoro, Central Jakarta, was also packed with well-wishers, including Cabinet members, diplomats and businesspeople.

Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso was accompanied by his wife and daughters.

As with past Idul Fitri celebrations, many taxi drivers took the opportunity of few public transportation vehicles on the roads to double or triple their fares.

"Usually I spend Rp 10,000 to Kemang from here (Pondok Labu in South Jakarta). But this time the driver asked me to pay him Rp 25,000. I had no choice. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to meet my relatives to ask for forgiveness," said passenger Sudharmo, who was with his wife and three children.

A fire in Rawa Sawah in Central Jakarta on the first day of Idul Fitri razed 30 houses. No casualties were reported in the incident.

Central Jakarta Police chief Arya Perdana said the cause of the fire and material losses were still under investigation.

"There are two pieces of information on the cause of the fire which we received from witnesses. The first witness said the fire was caused by a short circuit, while another attributed it to the explosion of firecrackers. However, the cause is still under investigation." (bsr/prb/ylt/06/ind)