Iedul Qurban’s Unique Traditions & Culinary in Indonesia

August 22, 2018 | Ahmad Gabriel


The Iedul Adha holiday, Hajj holiday or the Qurban holiday is a Muslim’s holiday celebrated on the 10th of Zulhijjah each year. It is exactly when those who can afford to perform Hajj in Mecca reach the ritual’s peak called Wukuf (to stay still) on the Arafah desert on the 9th Zulhijjah. When Wukuf time is over at sunset, Muslims celebrate the Qurban holiday all over the world. On this day, Muslims who do not perform Hajj would gather in the morning and perform mass prayer on a field or in a masjid, just the way they celebrated Iedul Fitr 70 days earlier. After they pray, sacrifice of the Qurban animals would be done to commemorate Allah’s command to prophet Ibrahim to slaughter his son prophet Ismail, in which Allah changed the sacrifice into a lamb. This is why this day is also known as the Qurban (sacrifice) holiday.



In Indonesia, the animals categorized as Qurban are cows, buffalos and lambs. Cows and buffalos must be at least two years old, while lambs must be at least one year old to be sacrificed. These animals would be given to the Qurban committee in masjids or people could give it in form of cash to charity institutions, so the sacrificed animals could be distributed to people who need them in remote areas. The word Qurban has two meanings; to be close to God; sacrificed animals. It means that by offering a sacrificed animal or some of the wealth that we have sincerely, a Muslim is following the example of prophet Ibrahim. Also, the meat from the sacrificed animals is donated to the poor who hardly eat meat, this is so that they too could enjoy the Qurban holiday.



This tradition gave birth to the unique culinary;

When the sacrifice is done and the meat is distributed to the villages, mothers would usually cook Qurban special food for their children. One of which is Rendang, a spicy beef meal using a mixture of spices and herbs. The Minangkabau food is the result of a long cooking process using coconut milk. The process takes hours until the meat becomes black or brown in color. In 2011, rendang ranked first in the World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods list.

2. Soups
Unlike the children, the fathers prefer lamb soup. This dish is made of lamb meat with varied spices and herb. It is cooked with lamb broth that is white-yellowish in color. Soups made of beef and lamb meat such as ox tail soup, beef rib soup, and lamb feet soup is popular Qurban holiday dish.

3. Satay
You cannot call it a Qurban holiday if you do not make satay. Almost every household would cook satay, a dish made of small pieces of meat pierced with coconut or bamboo sticks, and then barbecued with charcoals. Satay is served with a variety of accompaniments according to the recipe. Usually it is served with sauce. Some prefer sweet soy sauce, while some like peanut sauce with their satay. Usually satay is served with pickles and slices of shallots, cucumber and cayenne pepper. Satay is eaten with warm rice or rice cakes.

4. Opor Ayam
Another dish eaten with rice cakes on the day is Opor Ayam (Chicken Opor). Opor Ayam is actually a dish of chicken boiled in coconut milk and spices such as lemongrass, galangal etc. In the Javanese tradition, the Qurban celebration is enliven with people making their own rice cakes, served with Opor Ayam and Sambal Goreng Ati (spicy fried liver). In Central Java, some Opor is made with lamb meat.

5. Gule and Gulai
Another dish that is also served on Qurban holiday is Gule and Gulai. Gule is a familiar dish in Java; in Sumatera it is called Gulai. Gulai is a dish made of a variety of meats such as chicken, fish, lamb, beef, offal, or vegetables like young jack fruit and cassava leaves, cooked with delicious herbed broth. But Gule is not as thick as Gulai, because Gule uses more water. Gule tends to use watery coconut milk and lamb meat broth.



Apart from culinary, there are other traditions done prior to Qurban holiday

1. Sedekah Bumi Apitan
People who live around Semarang, Central Java, have a unique tradition called Sedekah Bumi Apitan. This is a procession involving parading Tumpeng rice and other crops on the main roads. The tradition represents gratitude to Allah the Almighty for the abundant blessing. The gratitude is symbolized with the parade of stacked crops like rice, chilies, eggplants, corns, tomatoes and so on. At the end of the procession a prayer for the safety of the people would be read. And then people would fight for the crops. It was said that those who manage to grab it would be blessed.

2. Grebeg Gunungan
The Sultanate of Yogyakarta also celebrates the Qurban holiday by distributing seven Gunungan (a mountain-shaped mix of crops) called Garebeg of Grebeg Gunungan. The Gunungan would be made of crops such as fruits, vegetables and other crops. The procession is done to give thanks to God for the harvest, and it also represents charity from the Sultan to his people. The seven Gunungan would be paraded outside of the palace accompanied by rows of soldiers and palace personnel. During the procession, usually the soldiers try very hard to open the way since the Grebeg always attracts thousand of spectators. The Gunungan would be divided to three locations; the Gede Kauman masjid, Puro Pakualaman and the Kepatihan office. When the Gunungan arrive, a prayer would be read and then the Gunungan would be fought by those present who believe that if they can get something from the Gunungan they would live a blessed life.

3. Manten Sapi
The tradition of Manten Sapi in Pasuruan, East Java is a hereditary tradition held by the people of Grati Pasuruan before the Qurban holiday. The tradition is called “Manten Sapi” meaning the Cow Bride and Groom. Just like in a wedding, the cows would be made up as beautiful as possible. Each cow would wear a necklace made of seven different types of flowers. Their bodies would be covered with white cloths. When the decorating procession is over, those cows would be paraded by hundreds of people to the masjid and handed over to the Qurban committee.

4. Mepe Kasur
Meanwhile in Banyuwangi, the Mepe Kasur tradition (mattres drying) is done by the people of Adat Using village, Kemiren. Mepe Kasur is done to repel calamities and to maintain harmony in marriages. Usually the Using people do this procession every day. Mattresses would be dried in line in front of each house and hit with a broom. During the procession, the mattresses would be red and black in color, and called Kasur Gembil. For the locals, Kasur Gembil has its special meaning. Black represents ‘everlasting’ and red represents bravery. The hundreds of years tradition, apart from being used as a way to clean mattresses after a year of use, is also done to respect the coming of the month of Hajj or Zulhijjah.

Usually, Indonesian people would go on a Mudik (coming home to one’s hometown) prior to Iedul Fitr. But Mudik tradition is a little bit different for the people of Madura. They would do a mass Mudik prior to the Qurban holiday. The tradition obliges some Madurans who live far away to come home and reconnect to their family and relatives, as well as to help those in need in their hometown. For some Madurans, the Qurban holiday is more festive and memorable compared to Iedul Fitr.

Here are just some of the unique culinary dishes and traditions of the Qurban holiday in Indonesia. It shows just how rich the Indonesian culture is. Furthermore, it also shows how the Indonesian culture is abundant with expressions in celebrating and commemorating events in its religious context.

Ahmad Gabriel
Ahmad Gabriel dilahirkan di Jakarta, 13 April 1987. Menyukai dunia menulis, sastra dan desain saat nyantri di PP. Al-Amien Prenduan dan pernah menjabat sebagai Ketua Sanggar Sastra Al-Amien. Saat ini diamanahi sebagai Ketua Departemen Pengembangan Wilayah DPP Pemuda PUI.

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