In pictures: Indonesian expats celebrate 76th Independence Day in Abu Dhabi

Ismail Sebugwaawo; Photos by Ryan Lim/Abu Dhabi
Filed on August 17, 2021

The socially distanced event was held at the Indonesian Embassy.

Scores of Indonesian expatriates, residing in Abu Dhabi, celebrated their country's 76th Independence Day on Tuesday, as they remembered the heroes who fought for their country’s freedom.

The socially distanced celebrations, including the flag-hoisting ceremony, parade and singing of the national anthem, were held at the Indonesian Embassy in the capital.

Indonesia is the largest archipelagic country in the world and the most populous Muslim nation. It had proclaimed its independence on August 17, 1945, after being colonised by the Dutch for 350 years and later by Japan for another three-and-a-half years.

The Nasi Tumpeng ceremony, a traditional rice cone dish and the pride of the country, which has several volcanoes, is an integral part of the Independence Day celebrations.

Earlier, the dish would glorify the mountain as the abode of the Hyang or ancestral spirits.

“However, when Islam came to the island of Java, the meaning of Tumpeng underwent a radical change. Initially, it glorified the mountain, and later it was interpreted as a form of gratitude to Allah. Usually, the dish is served after the recitation of the Holy Qur’an and is eaten in a social gathering,” said an embassy official.

"We’re celebrating this day to mark 76 years of the proclamation of Independence Day in 1945. This day reminds us of how we were freed from colonial rule and Indonesia became an independent nation,” Husin Bagis, Ambassador of Indonesia to the UAE, told Khaleej Times.

“Thousands of Indonesians living in the UAE are celebrating this Independence Day. We’ve organised sports activities and webinars to pray for our nation and talk to our people on how they can do away with the stress brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added,

Bagis emphasised the strong bilateral relationship between the UAE and Indonesia in several aspects such as economic cooperation, education, Islamic initiatives etc.

The UAE is a home-away-from-home for around 100,000 Indonesians, of whom 50,000 are based in Abu Dhabi and the rest are spread across other emirates, including Dubai.

Expat Rayyan Mohammad, 42, said Independence Day means freedom to him.

“This day is the symbol of our independence and freedom from colonial rule. Every year, we celebrate this day to remember our heroes who fought for our freedom,” said Mohammad.


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Another expat, Endang Sir Augustini, said: “We celebrate this day to show solidarity and love for our nation. This day reminds us that, as Indonesians, we have to stay together as one, especially during the challenging Covid-19 pandemic.”

Adhie Prasetyo, 23, who came to the embassy along with her mother, said August 17 is the most prominent day in his family’s calendar.

“We’ve celebrated this day since my childhood, and it has become part of our culture. Independence Day defined our identity as it gave birth to Indonesia as a sovereign nation,” Prasetyo added.

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