If you happen to be in Indonesia in August, around the 17th, you will find roads, buildings and pretty much everywhere adorned with the Indonesian flag.

On the morning of the 17th, there will be a ceremony, kids will get the day off school, and the media will be flooded with celebrations and posts about the special day.

Indonesia takes their Independence Day very seriously – as they should!

It took hundreds of years and a bloody struggle for Indonesia to be independent. Here is a history of the battle for Indonesia’s independence.

The History of Indonesian Independence Day

Indonesia became independent on August 17, 1945, after previously being under both Dutch and Japanese colonialism.

The Proclamation of Indonesian Independence was read by Soekarno, accompanied by Mohammad Hatta, at Jalan Pegangsaan Timur 56, Central Jakarta.

The defeat of Japan became one of the important events for Indonesia to be declared independent.

On August 6, 1945, the city of Hiroshima, Japan, was devastated by the atomic bomb dropped by the United States. Three days later, an atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki City, Japan occurred. In just a short time, these two atomic bombs succeeded in killing hundreds of thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a result, Japan, which had been badly defeated, and was forced to surrender, which also marked the end of World War II.

The Japanese tried to prevent news of their defeat from being heard by the Indonesian people, but to no avail. The young groups immediately urged Soekarno and Hatta to declare Indonesian independence. But Sukarno was reluctant, and chose to wait for an agreement from the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI).

Not wanting to be further intimidated by the Japanese, a youth group decided to kidnap the two Indonesian national figures in the early hours of 16 August 1945 at Rengasdengklok, Karawang.

The two of them continued to be pressed until finally, Soekarno and Hatta agreed to proclaim Indonesian independence no later than August 17, 1945.

Soekarno and Hatta were brought back to Jakarta, and to the home of Rear Admiral Tadasi Maeda, Chief of Navy and Army Liaison Officer for the Imperial Japanese Army. It was in this house that Soekarno, Hatta, and Achmad Soebardjo drafted the proclamation.

After long negotiations, the text of the proclamation was finally completed and read in front of all the Indonesian people on August 17, 1945. On the same day, the Sang Saka Merah Putih flag was raised, which had been sewn by Soekarno’s wife, Fatmawati.

After this thrilling moment, Indonesia officially got its independence. Soekarno was elected as President of Indonesia and Mohammad Hatta as Vice President.

What Happens on Independence Day?

Preparations for Independence Day begin as August rolls around. Knick knacks of red and white will begin to appear on the streets and buildings.

The words Dirgahayu RI and the Republic of Indonesia’s Anniversary are found everywhere.

On the night of August 16th, especially in Java, a ‘thanksgiving’ evening is held where people will gather and pray for Indonesia.

The next morning, on August 17th, ceremonies are shown on TV and a national holiday means shops and businesses are often closed. In the local neighborhoods, children (and sometimes adults too) will play games such as lomba makan krupuk (cracker eating contests), balap karung (sack races), panjat pinang (climbing competitions), lomba tarik tambak (tug of war) and lomba pukul air (eye-closed water pinata competitions). In Bali, there is a beach kite competition as well!

In the afternoon, at the Presidential Palace, a flag lowering ceremony is held. But it doesn’t mean the celebration is over, the splendor of nationalism will last until the end of August.

Final Thoughts

August 17th is an important day for the people of Indonesia. It is a time full of joy and happiness.

If you’re in Bali or Indonesia for Independence Day, show some respect and enjoy it too! Take part in competitions with local people, and take advantage of shopping promos, and learn to pronounce Dirgahayu Republik Indonesia ;).


Featured image: Independence Day