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Celebrating the Islamic New Year in Indonesia

A New Year’s celebration in summer? Yep! 

In Indonesia, and other predominantly Islamic countries, Muslims celebrate the Islamic New Year instead of the more popular Gregorian New Year that you’re probably used to. Muslims celebrate their New Year according to the Islamic calendar, which began around the same time that the Islam religion did. 

In this article, you’ll learn all about this holiday in Indonesia and pick up some useful vocabulary at the same time. Let’s get started!

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1. What is Islamic New Year in Indonesia?

Islamic New Year

The Islamic New Year, or Tahun Baru Hijriyah, commemorates the migration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, as well as the founding of Islam

It’s said that the Prophet Muhammad was given a mission from Allah to teach Islam the world over. The Prophet began this mission by going to Mecca, where he and his followers taught Islam to the local people. But due to hostilities and a divine message from Allah, Muhammad and his followers performed what’s known as the Hijrah (“Hijra”), leaving Mecca for Medina. 

On the Islamic New Year, Indonesian Muslims in Bengkulu also remember the death of Husein bin Ali Bin Abi Thalib. This was Muhammad’s grandson, who died in an Iraqi battle in 680 AD during the Islamic month of Muharram.

    → Are you fascinated with religions? Check out our Religion vocabulary list to see the names of different religions in Indonesian! 

2. When is Islamic New Year?

A Calendar

The Islamic New Year marks the first day of the first month in the Hijri year, called Muharram. In the Islamic kalender (“calendar”) system, each new day begins at sunset, and dates are determined by lunar rotation. 

For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s tentative date on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years. 

  • 2020: August 20
  • 2021: August 10
  • 2022: July 31
  • 2023: July 19
  • 2024: July 7
  • 2025: June 26
  • 2026: June 16
  • 2027: June 6
  • 2028: May 25 
  • 2029: May 14

Note that the dates listed here are only estimates based on when moon sightings are expected to be, so the actual dates may vary slightly. In addition, the date can vary a bit from one country to another. 

3. How is Islamic New Year Celebrated?

A Lit Torch for a Procession

In Indonesia, Islamic New Year traditions vary from region to region. In fact, some of these traditions are unique to Indonesia and won’t be found in other Islamic countries. 

Islamic New Year celebrations in Indonesia tend to focus on general commemoration, the doing of good deeds, and praying for good things to come. Popular dua of Islamic New Year are those asking Allah for protection from the devil, overall safety, and peace. On the first day of the Islamic New Year, fasting is encouraged; that said, it’s considered more important to fast during Ashura, a few days later. 

Perhaps the most notable Islamic New Year tradition takes place in Solo. Here, the New Year is rung in by watching a pawai (“parade”) called the Kirab 1 Sura (or “The Royal Procession of the 1st of Sura”). During this parade, onlookers will see not only a procession of heirlooms from the Surakarta Sunanate, but also a herd of albino buffalo being led by courtiers. These buffalo are considered sacred, and onlookers will go out of their way to touch one of them, believing that doing so will bring them good fortune and blessings.

In Yogyakarta, Indonesian Muslims perform an offering known as Upacara Sedekah Laut (“The Sea Offering Ritual”). This Islamic New Year food offering is done out of gratitude, and takes place in the popular tourist destination of Baron Beach. People push produce (such as fruits, vegetables, and rice) out to sea, as well as traditional cakes and even a goat or buffalo head. It’s thought that doing so will ensure the safety of fishermen. 

Still other areas in Indonesia perform an obor (“torch”) parade. This parade consists of communal prayer, a procession of Muslims carrying torches, and traditional Islamic music and dancing. This tradition is quite exciting in that Muslims from all walks of life can and do participate—Muslim scholars celebrate alongside commoners, children, and students. 

4. The Islamic Calendar

Night and Day

Do you know how many hari (“days”) there are per month, and per year, in the Islamic calendar?

As mentioned, the Islamic calendar is lunar-based (compared to the solar-based Gregorian calendar). As such, each Islamic year has approximately eleven fewer days per year than the Gregorian calendar does. 

In the Islamic calendar, there can be either 354 or 355 days in one year, and 29 or 30 days in a month. 

    → We have a blog article all about Dates in Indonesia. Learn how to talk your way around the calendar like a native! 

5. Essential Vocabulary for the Islamic New Year

Words Written in a Notebook

Let’s review some of the Indonesian vocabulary from this article! 

  • Hari – “Day”
  • Waktu – “Time”
  • Kalender – “Calendar”
  • Hijrah – “Hijra”
  • Tahun Baru Hijriyah – “Islamic New Year”
  • Penuh dosa – “Sinful”
  • Dalil – “Proposition”
  • Amalan – “Good deed”
  • Obor – “Torch”
  • Pawai – “Parade”

Remember that you can visit our Indonesian Islamic New Year vocabulary list to study these words further, listen to their pronunciation, and add them to your flashcard deck. 

Final Thoughts

What are your thoughts on the Islamic New Year? How do traditions and celebrations compare to New Year celebrations in your country? Let us know in the comments! 

If you would like to learn more about Indonesian culture and holidays, IndonesianPod101.com has a special blog archive dedicated to those topics, so be sure to check it out. And to continue learning this beautiful language, why not start with some vocabulary lists on your favorite topics? 

We hope to see you around. 😉

Happy Islamic New Year from the IndonesianPod101.com team!

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