Meugang, Centuries-Old Tradition from Aceh to Welcome Holy Month of Ramadan

Diana Mariska
People buying beef to celebrate meugang. (Photo: Antara)
People buying beef to celebrate meugang. (Photo: Antara) - As Muslims around the world are waiting for Ramadan, each of them have their own way and tradition to celebrate the holy month. And it’s no different in Aceh, where Muslims in the province welcome the fasting month with a long-standing tradition called meugang.

One or two days before Ramadan, Acehnese will consume dishes that contain beef from cows or bulls with their families, and the tradition has been held since the Aceh Sultanate era, particularly during the ruling of Iskandar Muda in the 1600s.

And it is during this time that demand for cow and bull beef increases sharply – at least up to 200 percent – which eventually triggers the price to rise to Rp160,000 to Rp200,000 per kilogram from Rp150,000.

New sellers are also born, displaying their products in simple stalls on the streets or in the markets authorized by local government during meugang days. These stalls will be crowded by customers wanting to get a piece of beef to enjoy with their family, and traffic will be unavoidable.

And not only beef, the price of other commodities, such as shallot, red chili, tomato, and spices will also hike.

Sharing Is Caring

Besides buying the beef on their own, another way that is popular among Acehnese to celebrate meugang is through a whip-round, or meuripee.

In this year’s Ramadan, journalism organization Kaukus Wartawan Peduli Syariat Islam (KWPSI) slaughtered two cows which were bought by money collected in whip-round where each member chipped in Rp200,000.

Each member then received about two kilograms of beef while the rest of the meat was donated to the less fortunate in nearby village where the slaughtering took place.

Celebrating meugang with meuripee is the chance for people to build a sense of community.

Manuscript collector Tarmizi A Hamid said one of the purposes of meugang is also to encourage Acehnese to take care of each other.

“During this moment, there are people that can afford to buy beef and give it to the ones who can’t. That’s a value among Acehnese, especially just before Ramadan,” Hamid said, as reported by Antara.

A Homecoming Treat

Celebrating meugang is also an opportunity for those who leave their hometown for work to return and spend some times with their family and enjoy the dishes cooked by their parents.

The start of meugang can be marked by a lot restaurants or shops that are closed because the owners are returning to their hometown to meet their families and visit the graves of late relatives (ziarah).

According to politician from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) Farid Nyk Umar, the long-held tradition must continue because it has positive values of sharing and caring.

According to him, in the past, Iskandar Muda asked the leaders in his kingdom to have meugang and distribute beef from cows and bulls to the people, especially the poor.

The people then cooked the beef into various dishes, such as kuah beulangong, sie reboh (direbus dengan aneka bumbu), masak puteh, and rending – or even salted into sie balue.

Tag # indonesia ramadan # ramadan in indonesia # indonesian tradition # aceh # local traditions # tradition from aceh

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