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Lesson Transcript

Fira: Hi everyone! Welcome back to IndonesianPod101.com. I’m Fira.
Gina: And I’m Gina! This is All-About, Lesson 9, Top Five Most Important Dates on the Indonesian Calendar. Do you know much about the Indonesian calendar? There happen to be many significant historical and religious dates.
Fira: Indonesia has many interesting celebrations throughout the year. In this lesson, we’re going to learn about five holidays that are near and dear to the hearts of Indonesian people.

Lesson focus

Gina: Let’s go in reverse order of importance, starting with number five.
Fira: Coming in at number five is August seventeenth, which is Indonesian Independence Day. This is called Hari Proklamasi Kemerdekaan Republik Indonesia in Indonesian.
Gina: What is the significance of this day?
Fira: On this day in 1945, the first president, Sukarno, and his vice president, Mohammad Hatta, declared Indonesia an independent state after Japan surrendered at the end of World War II.
Gina: How is this day celebrated nowadays?
Fira: Well, there are parades on the streets, flag-raising ceremonies, traditional races and other competitions, and many other activities for people to enjoy. So if you visit Indonesia on this day, don’t forget to check out these events.
Gina: Okay. What comes in at number four?
Fira: Number four is an Islamic holiday week which, before, seemed only to be celebrated in the court centers of Java, but now it’s celebrated nation-wide.
Gina: What’s this holiday called?
Fira: Its formal name is Maulud, and this commemorates the birth of Mohammad, the main prophet of Islam. However, most people refer to it as Sekaten, the name of the festival which is held throughout the week.
Gina: Right! We briefly talked about this in a previous lesson. It’s an especially colorful occasion at the royal courts themselves.
Fira: Yes, during Sekaten, immense offerings of food, called gunungan, are paraded around the main squares, which surround the royal courts. This procession is known as Garebeg.
Gina: I heard that people believe that food from these offerings will ensure good luck, so crowds of people surround the gunungan, hoping for a good luck token or two. Is that right?
Fira: That’s true. Another thing about Sekaten is the special musical instruments, called Gamelan Sekati. They’re played only during this time for six days. In Yogyakarta and Solo, these instruments are huge; about twice the size of average gamelan instruments. Also, there’s an old legend about the Sultan offering a prize to any musician who manages to break a bronze bar with his mallet during playing.
Gina: Okay, What’s number three on our list?
Fira: Next is the Balinese holiday called Nyepi, or the "Day of Silence”. The name comes from the word sepi, which means "quiet" or "silent”. For this one day the whole island of Bali is silent and takes the time for self-reflection and ascetic practice.
Gina: What about tourists? Would they have to interrupt their plans for the day?
Fira: Yes, that’s right. They have to stay in their hotels. They can’t go to the beach or go on tours. People don’t light fires or turn on the lights, they don’t work, they don’t step out of their house, nor do they engage in anything entertaining for the day.
Gina: Well then, I guess even the airport must be closed for the day?
Fira: Right. In fact, the only people allowed on the streets are the pecalang, or "village security guards," and emergency vehicles.
Gina: That sounds like it could be either a maddening or an enlightening experience. It’s a good thing that it only lasts for one day. When is it, by the way?
Fira: The date changes every year because it’s based on the Balinese lunar calendar, but it’s usually some time in either March or April.
Gina: Great! That was number three. Now, what’s number two on our list?
Fira: It’s another Balinese holiday season; Galungan and Kuningan.
Gina: This is one of my personal favorites, one of the biggest Balinese celebrations on their 210-day wuku calendar cycle. Fira how does it begin? Fira, could you explain what this holiday is about?
Fira: Well, it’s kind of a long story. It commemorates the death of a tyrannical king named Maya Denawa, who had commanded his subjects to make offerings to him instead of the gods.
Gina: As a result, the gods brought no rain, the farmers yielded no crops, and famine plagued the land. The subjects prayed to the gods for a way to get rid of their king. The god Indra descended and brought with him his troops to go after Maya Denawa. Using his magical powers, Maya Denawa was able to evade Indra by repeatedly changing his form. However, after a long battle, Indra finally struck him down and killed him with an arrow. The dead king’s blood flowed into the Petanu River, bringing upon it a curse that would last for over a millennium. It is said that any land irrigated by this water would produce crops which oozed the blood of Maya Denawa, that is, until the curse was finally broken just a few decades ago. Today, people often remember the Galungan-Kuningan period along with this story. They like to retell it and invite the gods for annual visits to the island.
Fira: It`s a great story and an interesting holiday!
Gina: But how is this holiday celebrated?
Firag: Well, during this holiday season, people usually make and give many offerings on the first day, visit parks and have picnics on the second day, and there are many other activities for the remainder of the period.
Gina: So, when does this take place?
Fira: Because it’s on a 210-day calendar cycle, there may be many opportunities when it’s celebrated twice in one year. In any case, Galungan always falls on a Wednesday, and ends with Kuningan ten days later on the Saturday of the following week.
Gina: Nice! I definitely look forward to the next Galungan and Kuningan! Okay, now, let’s move on to the last holiday. What’s the number one holiday on our list?
Fira: Idul Fitri or Lebaran. This is the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. Lebaran refers to the entire week before Idul Fitri. Most people get the week off, which is good because almost all of them will need the time to travel back to their hometowns for a visit.
Gina: And that means almost everyone in Indonesia.
Fira: Yes, all traffic; planes, trains, automobiles, and buses will be crazy, not to mention expensive, during Lebaran!
Gina: So it is a time people look forward to, but you have to make sure that you get everything ready in advance and that you’re ready to brave the crowds and long waits. Alright! We’ve covered the five most important holidays in Indonesia.
Fira: That’s right. We hope you have the chance to visit Indonesia during one of these holidays so that you can experience it for yourself!


Gina: See you next time, everyone!
Fira: Sampai jumpa lagi