Meugang, Joyful Meat Festivities in Aceh


Aceh is one of the most religious provinces in Indonesia. This northernmost Sumatran province even applies an adjusted sharia law, the only one to do so in the country. The devotion to Islamic rule and law can easily be seen in many traditions in Aceh. One of them is Meugang.

Meugang is a tradition to slaughter cattle or poultry to celebrate certain Islamic events. This is a province-wide celebration where people eat meat almost to their hearts’ content. However, this tradition is not based on hedonism at all. Here is what you need to know about Meugang.

Serving Meat

Meat-based dishes. via Instagram/ami_muchtar

The main activity in Meugang is actually very simple. People slaughter their cow, goat, sheep, or chicken so that they can eat the meat. This is not for personal satisfaction only. The meat is supposed to be enjoyed with family, friends, and neighbors.

Right now, you can probably imagine how festive this occasion is. During Meugang, you can see people eating together with meaty dishes while having a nice chat.

History of meugang

Community meugang. via Instagram/munzirsterling

Meugang was a tradition started during the Aceh Sultanate, when Sultan Iskandar Muda was reigning. At the beginning of the 17th century, the sultan decided to slaughter many of his cattle and then give the meat to his subjects. This is the sultan’s way to celebrate the prosperous and bountiful time. When Aceh fell to the hand of the Dutch, the kingdom no longer provides the meat. As a result, people start doing Meugang themselves.

Three times a year

Some are cooked into satay. via Instagram/achehofficial

This occasion happens three times a year; at the beginning of Ramadan, Eid el-Adha, and Eid al-Fitr. In villages, the festivities start a day before Ramadan and can last for several days. Women usually cook meat at home. Initially, most families slaughter their cattle or poultry themselves, but now they mostly buy meat from the market. That is why there are lots of butchers that increase their stocks during this time.

Meugang meaning

People shopping for meat. via Instagram/masardani

Now, Meugang is a great province-wide festivity. However, it is not all about partying or being hedonistic. This is more about being thankful for what has been given to you. This is the way you renew the connection between you and your family, friends, and neighbors. That is why most families spare some of their income just for this celebration.

Many meat dishes. via Instagram/pawon.modern

There is no certain way as to how you should cook the meat during Meugang. Most people just cook it the way they like it as long as it can be enjoyed together.

Aceh Indonesia meugang