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Monday May 1st 2017

‘Puasa’ and ‘Saum’

Language | Friday, 13 August 2010 | sundanesecorner.org

Hawé Setiawan

This month Muslim all over the world performs fasting. We call the month of fasting Ramadan or Romadon in Sundanese. Every day, during the entire month of Ramadan, from dawn to dusk we prevent ourselves from food, drink, and sexual activity. At the end of Ramadan, that is the beginning of the month of Syawal, we celebrate ‘Iedul Fitri, which literally means, “returning to the purity of humankind.”

Since the majority of Sundanese people are Muslim, they fast too. We can feel the atmosphere of Ramadan in every corner of their daily life. Islam came into West Java in around 15th or 16th century, and since then it has become the major religion of Sundanese people. Some said, “Sunda is Islam, and Islam is Sunda”.

There are two different words in Sundanese that refer to the act of fasting: puasa [pwa-sha] and saum [sawm]. The word puasa is derived from Sanskrit, whereas saum is derived from Arabic. Even though they have the same meaning, they are more or less different in their usages. To be more precise, the word saum sounds more polite and more formal than the word puasa. So people usually greet to each other, “Wilujeng [ngalaksanakeun ibadah] saum” (have a nice fasting).

There is also an interesting word that refer to common activity during Ramadan: ngabuburit [nga-boo-boo-rit]. This verb is derived from burit that means ‘dusk’. Ngabuburit means doing something (pleasant) in order to lessen the hardship of abstinence till dusk. Today this expression seems to have become an informal Indonesian word, especially for youth: there are at least two television programmes that use ngabuburit: ‘Ngabuburit Bareng Upin-Ipin’ (a cartoon show for children) and ‘Ngabuburit Djarum Coklat’ (an advertisement of an Indonesian cigarette that is stared by Gigi, a well known poprock band, and other bands).

Sundanese people call the month of Ramadan bulan puasa or politely sasih siam. The word bulan [boo-lAn] and sasih [sha-sih] mean ‘month’. They also call the day of ‘Iedul Fitri lebaran [le-bar-an] or politely boboran siam [bo-bor-an si-am].

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One Response to “‘Puasa’ and ‘Saum’”

  1. IMHO, puasa is the general terms for those who perform fasting. They may be Buddhist, Christian, Hindu etc. Shaum is more specific for Muslims.

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