The Jakarta Post
Residents line up near the Sanggar Suci temple in Malang, East Java, to break their fast with meals prepared by Buddhists of the Pagubuyan Metta community on Monday. (JP/Aman Rochman )
The Paguyuban Metta Buddhists community of the Sanggar Suci temple in Malang, East Java, was handing out nasi soto (aromatic soup with rice), es campur (ice dessert), warm tea and snacks at a yard near Jl. Dr. Wahidin on Monday afternoon.
Since 4:30 p.m., the locals as well as travelers who happened to be in the area, flocked the place for some free food.
"The distribution of iftar meals for the 30 days of Ramadan has become a tradition since it began in 1998," said the community's counselor, 72-year-old Winantea Listiahadi, in Malang on Tuesday. "Fifteen years ago, the activity was held in the yard of the vihara [Buddhist temple], but because of the large crowd, it has since been moved to an empty space near the vihara."
Winantea added that the free dishes for breaking the fast were initially provided in 1998 to help locals experiencing financial hardship following the country's economy crisis.
"We have maintained that tradition until now. Initially, about 60-80 people would come every day during Ramadan, but the figure later increased to 100 a day," he said, adding that the Buddhist community came up with the money for the meals as they aimed to express their love for their Muslim neighbors.
"We make sure all the food and cooking equipment is halal by involving our Muslim neighbors when preparing the meals or ordering them from a third party. On the last day of Ramadan, we usually provide nasi kuning [yellow rice] and congratulate the Muslims who celebrate Idul Fitri."
"I happened to pass by from Malang to Pasuruan and saw the locals lining up. I then stopped to break the fast with the food provided," said 34-year-old Yuniarti, who lives in Purwodadi.
Meanwhile 37-year-old Suprayitno said he usually visited the place after work for iftar. "For me, such an activity is very helpful; I usually ask the committee members to pack the food for me to bring home." (dpk/kes)