Lebaran in Rome

Berly Martawardaya (SIF’00) 

Unlike my lonely lebaran last year, my fifth lebaran in Europe is much more happening. I went to
Rome and celebrate it with other Indonesian students in Italy (mostly from Rome but also some from
Perugia, Siena and Milan).
We joined mass iftar at the Grand Mosque, the food was surprisingly good even though the behaviour of some of the participant certainly can be improved. Must admit it was an experience to takbiran in front of two thousand year old Pantheon and made a round walk (thawaf?) at Piazza Navona circuit decorated by statues from Bernini. The company had a sense of urgency since most of the Romans already finish their degree and will be back in about a week.
For the Ied prayer we went to the Central Mosque at the out skirt of Rome. The construction was funded mostly by Kuwaiti and Saudi, truly a architectural wonder and the biggest in Europe. Maybe they also feel a satisfaction and pride to be able build a mosque in the capital and heart of Roman Catholic. Can’t help but remember hundred of beggars trying to get shadaqah, standing between train station and Grand Mosque, and whether the money better spent elsewhere.

The Ied prayer was so packed that three sessions with one hour interval were needed to provide services to Moslems came from all over Italy. The loud speaker was not heard outside the mosque (someone told me it is not aloud) so we need to be inside, or close to door, to hear the imam and khutbah. We got there in the middle of the first session, so we waited for the second session. We also met some other Indonesian after finishing the prayer and got a look at market set up specifically for the occasion. I managed to taste a very good and large kebab for three Euro.

It happened that Indonesia has two embassies (KBRI) in the city of Rome. Officially Italy and Vatican are two different countries, but the distance is so close and it cost quite a fortune to maintain two embassies in Rome. Apparently Vatican still have axes to grind to Italy since Vatican used to comprise most of central Italy until Garibaldi with Vittorio Emanuel unified Italy and leaving Vatican only a tiny enclave. But since that historical incident also bring us the colourful Swiss Guard then my thought gained temporary calm.The diplomatic quirk turned out to be very beneficial to Indonesian student, especially those missing Indonesian food badly. Two embassies mean two lebaran open house. To be diplomatically correct and not wanting to offend any of the embassies, we had lunch at KBRI Roma and dinner at KBRI Vatikan. If you are wondering, each had distinct and superb menu. Needless to say, we made the most of the occasion and later sleep with stomach full and happy thought.You know what they say. All roads, even for Indonesian-food-craving-students, lead to Rome. 

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