Explore Rows of Traditions of Welcoming Nisfu Syakban Night Moments in Indonesia, Is Your Region?

Nisfu Shaban night is one of the more glorious nights than other nights for Muslims, apart from Lailatul Qadar. Nisfu Shakban is commemorated in the middle of the Sha’ban month. Based on LF PBNU’s hilal monitoring, the night of Nisfu Syakban falls between Tuesday, 7 March 2023 and Wednesday, 8 March 2023.

Nisfu Shakban night has the virtue of being a month full of grace and forgiveness of all sins. Muslims are encouraged to liven up the night of Nisfu Shakban by praying, reciting dhikr, making istighfar, doing sunnah prayers and fasting, reading the Qur’an, and other acts of worship.

Several regions in Indonesia have certain traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation to welcome the coming of the Nisfu Syakban night. Here’s the list.

1. Ruwahan Tradition in the Betawi Community

The Betawi community has a tradition on the night of Nisfu Syakban called ruwahan. The word ruwahan, which is taken from the word ‘arwah’ or the spirit of the ancestors, refers to the belief that the spirits of the ancestors will come before the month of fasting to visit their families.

The Betawi people will invite their extended family, neighbors and religious leaders to hold recitations and tahlilan to pray for relatives or families who have died. During ruwahan, various Betawi special treats are also provided, such as vegetable diamonds, beef stew, Betawi pickles, and small cakes.

2. Tradition of Umbul Dungo Apeman in Demak

Nisfu Syaban night tradition in Indonesia
The Tradition of Umbul Dungo Apeman in Demak/Photo: Mochamad Saifudin/detikJateng

The Demak Regional Arts Council (DKD) carries out the Umbul Dungo Apeman tradition on the night of Nisfu Syakban. This is a heritage tradition from the Sultanate of Demak which has developed over the centuries.

Quoting detikJateng, apart from being a joint prayer event, Umbul Dungo Apeman also displayed the art of Umbul Dungo dance and abstract painting art. Then, the most interesting thing is that there are mountains of apem cakes as a symbol of asking forgiveness from Allah SWT and asking for health and abundant sustenance. Philosophically, the word apem is believed to come from the Arabic ‘afwan’ or ‘afuwwun’ which means forgiveness.

3. Kupatan Tradition in Tuban

Not only Eid diamonds, people in Tuban, East Java also present the kupatan tradition on the Nisfu Syakban night. Residents usually gather to hold kupatan in the prayer room or mosque.

They will provide ketupat and its side dishes which are neatly placed in front. After the residents prayed together led by the elders in the village, the event ended by eating ketupat together.

4. The Nisfu Syaban Night Tradition in Pejengkolan Village

The people of Pejengkolan Village, Padureso District, Kebumen Regency, Central Java, have their own Nisfu Syakban night ritual. The tradition that started after the Maghrib prayer begins with the Nisfu Syakban prayer in congregation. After that, they carried out the Isha prayer in congregation and recited Surah Yasin three times.

This tradition is closed by eating snacks and enjoying a drink typical of Pejengkolan Village, namely roco charcoal-arang kambang. This drink, which is made from a mixture of young coconut, walojipang, dawet, grass jelly, ice cubes and palm sugar, is only available on Nisfu Syakban nights.

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