Festival Malam Ela-Ela, Ternate, Ost-Indonesien
tradition

Malam Ela-Ela – The ‘Night of Destiny’ on Ternate Island

The meaning of Ela-Ela bedeutet is ‚torch‘ in the local language. Malam Ela-Ela, also known in the muslim World as the Lailatul Quadar Night, is always celebrated in a very festive manner on the small Muslim Island of Ternate. The century old tradition is celebrated on the 27th night of the fasting month of Ramadan. It typically starts in the Sultan’s Palace, where the decidedly festive event is initiated with various rituals and from there culminates in a festive light procession through the island’s capital in the form of burning torches.

Vying for the highest attention, almost every house on the whole island is appropriately decorated for the occasion. Typically, after the Tarawih prayer in the mosque, a number of torches or lanterns made of bamboo or alternative utensils are lit in front of the own house, which attractively highlight their surroundings until dawn. The resin that is commonly used for this occation, typically from the island of Halmahera, provides further stimulation of the senses with its special scent. According to local belief that has been handed down for centuries, Malam Ela-Ela is considered the night when Allah decides on a person’s fate. 

Malam Ela-Ela – The quiet, atmospheric tradition at the end of Ramadan

The special charm of this quiet and very atmospheric tradition on Ternate has not gone unnoticed. Visitors from other island regions of the Indonesian archipelago are regularly drawn to Ternate to experience this impressive event up close and, a few days later, the end of Lent there, symbolized by the festival Eid Mubarak Idul Fitri or also known as Hari Raya Idul Fitri, to celebrate.

Background to the Lailatul Quadar night

On Lailatul Quadar, on the Night of Destiny, Muslims around the world commemorate the night on which the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. This night is mentioned in the Koran and called Laylatul Qadr, (also Laylat al-Qadr, Lailatul-Qadr or similar variations). The name is also often translated as night of decree or night of omnipotence. According to the Koran, the night of al-Qadr (the decree) weighs a thousand months. In other words, deeds are multiplied and worshiping God that night is considered equivalent to worshiping for a thousand months. Although many scholars believe that the 27th day of Ramadan is the correct date for Lailatul Quadar, opinions differ. Mostly, however, it is assumed that the public holiday falls on one of the odd last 10 days of Ramadan, with this decade being considered particularly holy.

Lailatul Quadar – Expected dates in the coming years

 Year Weekday Date 
2021Saturday08.05.2021
2022Thursday28.04.2022
2023Monday17.04.2023
2024Friday05.04.2024
2025Wednesday26.03.2025
2026Sunday15.03.2026
Source: https://www.timeanddate.de/feiertage/kanada/laylat-al-qadr