Today, August 17, marks Indonesian Independence Day.
This annual event has been celebrated right across the archipelago in South East Asia/Oceania since the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence (Proklamasi Kemerdekaan Indonesia) was read at 10.00 a.m. on Friday, August 17, 1945.
The proclamation initiated a near five-year diplomatic and armed resistance of the Indonesian National Revolution, with fighting against the Netherlands.
However, the Dutch gave official recognition to Indonesia’s independence in 1949 and as recently as 2005 the Netherlands publicly announced that they accepted 17 August 1945 as Indonesia’s independence date.
An English translation of the Proclamation reads as follows:
WE THE PEOPLE OF INDONESIA HEREBY DECLARE THE INDEPENDENCE OF
INDONESIA. MATTERS WHICH CONCERN THE TRANSFER OF POWER AND
OTHER THINGS WILL BE EXECUTED BY CAREFUL MEANS AND IN THE
SHORTEST POSSIBLE TIME.
DJAKARTA, 17 AUGUST 1945
IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE OF INDONESIA
The document’s two signatories were the President and Vice-President respectively.
So what happens on this day in Indonesia? Well, preparations traditionally get underway well in advance. Large office buildings in cities and towns proudly display banners or lighted designs, whilst fences around the presidential palace and many government offices are draped in red and white bunting (the national colours).
Shopping malls are decorated in red and white and special Independence Day sales are held and the words Dirgahayu RI (Long live Indonesia!) feature prominently.
Newspaper and magazine column inches are taken up by political observers, and TV shows commemorating the struggle for independence are aired for weeks before and after Independence Day.
Perhaps the most iconic and solemn moment of the day is the flag hoisting at the National Palace, which is broadcast live on television across the Republic of Indonesia. It is a spectacle of the greatest respect and honour for the flag and the Republic.
Led by the President and Vice President, the ceremonies are attended by key political figures past and present as well as honoured guests. High school students from throughout the archipelago are selected based purely upon their marching skills, and they perform a superb show of intricate steps and turns to hoist the flag, whilst the military brass stand in full uniform.
Popular Independence Day activities include bike decorating, games, krupuk (shrimp chips) eating contests, races and generally lots of fun. Women participate in cooking contests, with the aim to make the largest krupuk, or the most delicious nasi tumpeng (a cone shaped rice dish resembling a mountain).
Do you know of any other national events around the world? How are they celebrated? Let us know via the comment box below. We always love to hear about world events and celebrations in other nations and languages around the globe.
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