Lanterns and Takbiran: Yogyakarta, Central Java

Colorful paper lanterns that light the way for the traditional Takbiran prayer processions on the eve of Idul Fitri are loved and appreciated equally by children, teenagers and small-scale craftsmen. The additional income the lanterns bring in is a major blessing for the residents of Wirokerten village in Yogyakarta who create and sell them in the days leading up to Idul Fitri celebrations.

Children are particularly fond of the colorful paper lanterns, which residents said were beautiful at night once they have candles placed inside them.

One lantern craftsman in Bantul, 33 year old Jasmin, said he would create hundreds of lanterns for the holiday and was always able to sell them all during the Idul Fitri season.

More than 20 families in the village said they enjoy the additional income from the lanterns for their own Idul Fitri holiday festivities.
The lanterns can be seen for sale on the side of the road up to 10 days before Idul Fitri.

Children make up a large percentage of the craftsmen’s target market, so clever business traders look for new and different lanterns to make every year.

Butterflies, sport cars, Hello Kitty shapes and Spongebob lanterns are already popular choices for children and this year’s special holiday.

“We start looking for design ideas and we start to make lanterns several months before Ramadhan, so that we have a lot of stock to sell,” said Umiatun, Jasmin’s wife, who works together with her husband to sell their stock.

The lanterns require decorated paper, waxpaper, bamboo, styrofoam, paint and glue — and these simple materials keep production costs down.

Another craftsman in Bantul, Anton, 30, said he would sell his stock for between Rp 6,000 and Rp 12,000 each, depending on the design and size of the lanterns.

“The price will be more expensive if the designs are more complicated,” said Anton, accompanied by his wife, Partini, who also helps with sales.

Anton said he takes lantern orders from traders in Yogyakarta and Klaten, Central Java. He said he can often sell as many as 50 extra lanterns a day to commercial retail outlets.

Anton said selling lanterns for the holiday would see him make about Rp 3 million, which he said was “very helpful to meet our Idul Fitri needs”.

Slamet Susanto