While most people were nicely tucked up in their blankets, a convoy of around 50 people was roaming the streets of Jakarta early on Saturday, distributing 300 boxes of nasi padang or Padang food to homeless people.
The convoy handed out free meals in a tradition locally known as sahur (pre-dawn meals before fasting) on the road, starting from Blok M, South Jakarta, at 12 a.m. and ending in Kota Tua, North Jakarta, at 3:30 a.m.
The convoy’s coordinator, Dimas Adi Prasetyo, 20, said that he wanted to give back to society through such events.
“I welcome people from all kinds of backgrounds who want to participate in the convoy. The point of the event is to share with the needy,” the University of Indonesia student said while giving food to street children in Kota Tua.
Prihandiningsih, 22, one of the convoy participants, said that she wanted to join the convoy so that she could have the chance to do good deeds during the holy month.
However, occasionally people take advantage of such good deeds. “Sometimes when we give food to one person to be shared with their friends, that person takes the whole food for themselves. This makes me sad,” Prihandiningsih, who is referred to as Dini, said.
Nowadays, mobilizing people for sahur on the road has never been this easy, thanks to technology.
Dini said that she usually participated in sahur on the road spontaneously by checking BlackBerry Messenger to see if anyone she knew had planned for such activity.
Besides BlackBerry Messenger, social media such as Twitter is also filled with people tweeting about plans to join sahur on the road or asking others to join an event.
“Sahur On The Road (SOTR) @SMPN3JAKARTA. Let’s join!” one Twitter subscriber, Vya Fairuz, said on Saturday.
While social media has helped people to gather together for sahur on the road, Cadenza “Cesa” Cesademar, 22, said that he had been participating in such events since before social media existed.
“I have been participating in sahur on the road since I was 10 years old because my brother asked me to join him handing out free meals with my family. But once I turned 17 and could drive a car, I went with my friends instead,” said the Binus university undergraduate student.
He said that what he enjoyed the most from sahur on the road was the camaraderie among the participants.
“It’s kind of difficult for me to meet my friends because we all go to different universities. At least we can gather once a year through events like this,” Cesa said.
Regardless of the reasons, those who benefit from sahur on the road are the marginalized, such as Turiah, a 50-year-old street musician who performs at Kota Tua from
evening until late night.
“I usually get donated food during Ramadhan. But outside of the holy month, no one gives food to me,” she said.
Meanwhile, Yuli, 14, also a street musician, said that she always got excited during the fasting month because she could get free food.
However, besides being a blessing for the marginalized, sahur on the road can also become a hotbed for illegal racing.
Last year, two teenage girls were killed in a car accident after participating in sahur convoys held annually by their school, in South Jakarta.
Responding to the potential abuse of sahur on the road, Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto urged Jakartans to restrain from taking part in illegal races during the activity.
“I know that sahur on the road is based on good intentions. But don’t misuse it as an opportunity to engage in illegal racing because it is dangerous,” he said as quoted by Tribunnews.com (han/riz)