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Jumat, Februari 04, 2011

‘Imlek’ celebrated in the spirit of pluralism

‘Imlek’ celebrated in the spirit of pluralism
Andi Hajramurni and Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Makassar/Yogyakarta | Fri, 02/04/2011 11:08 AM | Headlines

Festive mood: A Church congregation joins a Chinese-themed Mass at Tebet Catholic Church in South Jakarta on Thursday. The celebration is part of Chinese New Year festivities. JP/Damar Harsanto

Chinese New Year, or Imlek, is not only celebrated by Indonesian-Chinese, but also ethnic Indonesians in a number of large cities.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, hundreds of residents joined in the revelry on the eve of Imlek on Wednesday night.

For them, Imlek is a much-awaited time when they can enjoy the festive fireworks, lanterns, lion dances and bright temple lights in the Chinatown area pervaded by the scent of joss sticks.

On Wednesday night, hundreds of residents from Makassar and surrounding areas crowded on Jl. Sulawesi to witness the festivities. The street is home to two large temples and is where the Imlek festivities are concentrated. Police closed the road to traffic.

Residents waited until midnight to watch the colorful firework display.

Ethnic Chinese residents had since the afternoon flocked to the temples to pray. They burned joss sticks and prayed to deities for themselves and for the peace and security of the country.

An ethnic Chinese resident in Makassar, Yuli, expressed hope that the country and its people would face a better year and would be protected from disasters and upheaval.

“I pray for myself and for the country. Hopefully, there would be no disasters and riots this year, so we can live better and peaceful lives and the economy can improve,” he said.

On the resort island of Bali, an acculturation of Balinese and Chinese traditions colored the celebrations on Thursday.

Indonesian-Chinese marked the first day of the Year of Rabbit in the spirit of pluralism, as they flocked to houses of worship to pray for blessings for the year ahead.

In Jakarta, Governor Fauzi Bowo made a pledge that he would end discrimination against Indonesian-Chinese.

During a visit to the Chinese neighborhood in Rawa Kompeni in Kalideres, West Jakarta, the governor said he had made efforts to end such discrimination including repealing a policy that required Jakartans of Chinese descent to inform of their ethnic background on their identity cards.

Fauzi said Chinese culture had become part of the indigenous culture of Jakarta. “The Chinese culture is an inseparable part of Jakarta. It is now part of its culture and I am proud of that,” he said.

In Yogyakarta, the Indonesian-Chinese community held the week-long Chinese Cultural Week (PBT) festival as a mark of solidarity with survivors of the recent Mount Merapi eruptions by showcasing the traditions of residents living on the slopes of the volcano.

The PBT this year lacked the glamor of previous years. “This is our way of mourning the Merapi disaster,” Yogyakarta Mayor Herry Zudianto said.

Yogyakarta has long been renowned as boasting a diverse culture. The Imlek festivities also showcased various groups and religions in Yogyakarta. “We organized this year’s Imlek celebrations to promote tourism in Yogyakarta,” Herry said.

In Palangkaraya, West Kalimantan, Imlek celebrations took place at Avalokitesvara temple on Jl. Tjilik Riwut.

While they prayed, local youth engaged in lion dances.

In Semarang, Central Java, the Imlek celebration was highlighted by the Imlek Semawis Market.