Contributor: ANJ | Editor: Supriyono
In Indonesia each year, Eid al-Fitr is marked with the Mudik exodus tradition, that is when a massive number of Indonesian Muslims simultaneously travel back to their hometowns to celebrate Eid day with their parents, relatives, and friends.
Yet, this year's mudik does not apply to Cut Manda Sari, an MA student at the Faculty of Education at UIII, who decided not to go home to Aceh, and chose to celebrate Eid al-Fitr miles away from their family at the university.
Cut Manda revealed that she did not go home this year because she is currently in the fourth semester, the last semester, in which she and other students of the same cohort are required to complete their capstone course in writing a thesis.
In this regard, Cut Manda expressed her agitation that going home could perhaps constrain her thesis progress, whilst she has set her own target to graduate in August this year.
"Right now, I'm in semester 4, and I'm working on my thesis. So if I go home, I'm worried my work on my thesis won’t be effective, especially since the Eid holiday is quite narrow. So I think it's better if I stay on campus with my friends," she said.
Apparently, doing the thesis was not the only consideration for Cut Manda to celebrate Eid at the campus, pointing out the togetherness with their friends as another factor leading to her decision. For Cut Manda and the fourth-semester MA students, this year’s Eid could be their last chance to have a memory of celebrating Eid together at the campus.
In addition, Cut Manda felt the university’s support to non-Mudik students was beyond her expectation. In this case, the university provided special Eid foods such as ketupat (boiled rice cakes wrapped in coconut leaves) and lontong (ketupat-alike yet using the leaves of banana instead of coconuts).
"Even though I don't go back to my hometown, at least I can still feel the pleasure of eating ketupat or lontong provided by the university; lontong is the specialty of Eid in Indonesia," Cut Manda expressed.
Despite the festivity that she enjoyed, a feeling of sadness was undeniable for Cut Manda as she was absent from her Eid family gathering. However, she managed to minimize this feeling of despair by continuing to carry out her home traditions at the dormitory, namely cooking ketupat mixed with Acehnese cuisine.
"Even though we are far from our families in Aceh, we also continue to carry out the tradition of cooking lontong on the third day of Eid at the UIII dormitory, and we also distribute regional specialties to student friends who stay in the dorms so that they can experience the tradition [of] eating Eid food [made by] native Acehnese," she conveyed.
Hence, Cut Manda’s experience of celebrating Eid al-Fitr at the university was memorable for her. This is also because other UIII students provided various kinds of cakes, both typical Eid cakes, brownies, and various kinds of Indonesian cakes, all of which were made available for the public in the lobby of the third-floor female dormitory.
"[Thus] in my opinion, the excitement and togetherness with friends feel more beautiful when we are together and share," Cut Manda concluded.