Feature: Street photographers descend on "empty Jakarta" during Eid holiday

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by Dames Alexander Sinaga

JAKARTA, May 3 (Xinhua) -- For people who are passionate about street photography, the once-a-year occurrence of quiet streets in Indonesia's capital of Jakarta during Eid al-Fitr holiday is a barrel of fun.

On Monday, Theodore Permadi and his friends were taking quirky and daring pictures in the middle of a road in the capital city's central business district that is normally characterized by traffic congestion and polluted air.

In Indonesia, which hosts the world's largest Muslim population, it is customary for the people living in major cities to return to their hometown for several days to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. The tradition is locally known as "mudik".

Permadi is a resident living in Jakarta's satellite city of South Tangerang. He had earlier planned with three friends the Eid street photography project that would take place in Jakarta's CBD.

"We came here to capture the moment when Jakarta is quiet since we can only experience this situation once a year. This is exciting because we can have some fun on a road that is usually busy with people and vehicles," the 25-year-old man told Xinhua.

"Here our photo models do funny things like watching films on their laptops, sleeping with pillows or setting up a tent in the street," he said laughingly.

One of the models, Melissa Hwang, 24, said that the last time they did such a project was in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Indonesia.

In the past two years, the travel to hometown by Muslims in the archipelagic country for the Eid celebration had become a mission impossible due to the government's ban on the annual exodus in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

"I'm so happy that we can do this again. Thanks to the government who has allowed the public for mudik," Hwang said, adding that they can take 50 to 60 photos within an hour.

"The best photos will be posted on my social media," she said, adding that her most difficult pose was pretending to laugh while watching a movie.

Some of the Muslim residents in Jakarta who did not go back to their hometown for some reasons celebrated the festive day by experiencing the quietness of Jakarta, home to some 10 million people.

Erwin Syahputra, 45, said he failed to return to his hometown of Palembang on the Sumatra island this year for work reasons. After attending Eid morning prayer outside the newly built Jakarta International Stadium (JIS) in northern part of the capital city, Syahputra and his colleague decided to stroll around downtown Jakarta and took some selfies to get a feel of the city's quietness amid the Eid exodus period.

"This is the first time for me to have seen Jakarta empty. The air smells clean and no city noise," said Syahputra who has been living in the capital for three years.

"The traffic flow from my house to JIS was very smooth. If it's on normal days, people would most likely be frustrated by the heavy traffic," he said. Enditem

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