Lebaran, also known as Eid al-Fitr, is the most important Muslim festival. It marks the end of Ramadan, the month during which Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset. Lebaran is a time of noisy festivities. People wear new clothes, light firecrackers, visit friends and family and prepare elaborate meals. Young people ask for forgiveness from their elders for their sins of the past year.

 Garebeg commemorates the birth of the Prophet Mohammed. Religious processions are held in Java. Large quantities of ceremonial food (gunungans) are taken in procession to the mosque. The food is blessed and distributed to those in attendance to ensure good health, good fortune and good harvests.

Isra Mi'raj Nabi Muhammed celebrates the ascension of the Prophet Mohammed. Eid al-Adha commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to God. During this festival, cattle and goats are sacrificed and people visit the graves of their ancestors. Muharam, or Hegira, is the Islamic New Year. It commemorates the day in 622 A.D. when Mohammed left Mecca to establish a new community in Medina.

 Hindu festivals are observed on the island of Bali, including Nyepi (New Year's). On the eve of Nyepi, offerings of food are placed at crossroads to appease the demons who are believed to live there. After dark, everyone goes out onto the streets, banging gongs and waving torches to frighten away the demons. People spend the following day in prayer and meditation. The streets are so quiet that it seems as if the island is deserted. The belief is that any remaining demons will be discouraged by the silence and will leave.

  Did you know?
The Tenggerese in East Java celebrate the Kesodo Festival each year by making a pilgrimage to the Bromo Volcano. In order to ensure that the volcano will not erupt, they sacrifice chickens and goats by throwing them into the volcano at midnight.
Waisak, the most important Buddhist festival, commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. Thousands of Buddhists gather at the ancient Borobudur Temple in Central Java. Monks lead a solemn procession carrying flowers and reciting prayers. When the moon is full, the people light candles, meditate and recite holy verses.

 On the island of Flores, Christians celebrate Easter with a barefoot procession at midnight. They carry a statue of the Virgin Mary believed to have been washed ashore on the island.

 Indonesians celebrate their independence on August 17. On this day in 1945, Soekarno proclaimed the country's independence in Jakarta.