Back to Home Page Print February 20, 2007

MANE ATTRACTION: A barongsai (lion dance) enlivens a celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year at Petak Sembilan, West Jakarta. Since the end of Soeharto's 32-year authoritarian reign in 1998, the Chinese-Indonesian community has regained the right to stage cultural shows in public. (JP/Arief Suhardiman)

Chinese New Year celebrated in style

National News - Monday, February 19, 2007

Slamet Susanto and Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta, Makassar

The Chinese-Indonesian community in Yogyakarta celebrated Sunday's Chinese Lunar New Year in style, holding a Chinese cultural week on Jl. Ketandan, near the southern end of the Malioboro strip.

The 500-meter-long, four-meter-wide road has been decorated with various festive accessories, including the ubiquitous and essential red paper lanterns. At the end of the road a banner reads "Budaya Tionghoa Yogyakarta", or "2007 Yogyakarta Indonesian Chinese Culture".

The party was opened by Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X.

Lining the road are 47 food stands, selling a huge variety of meals, ranging from peanut drinks to rice steamed in banana leaves.

A food has been labeled, so Muslim visitors don't have to worry about accidentally eating pork. Prices range from Rp 5,000 to Rp 15,000 a dish.

"This year's celebration is called the People's Party because this is a party focusing on tradition and people's meals," coordinating committee head Iman Indarto said Sunday.

He said they had first held the festival last year and intended to present it annually to preserve traditions and encourage assimilation.

"There are no longer the terms 'indigenous' and 'non-indigenous'. All people are Indonesians," Iman said.

Food stall owner Lie Mei Lan said: "I like this moment very much. This will strengthen togetherness."

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, celebrations were also cheerful, and involved not just local ethnic Chinese but people from all walks of life.

Thousands of Indonesian Chinese flocked to temples in the city to pray.

"We hope that this year all our prayers will be answered. We especially hope that all natural disasters hitting the country will end so that all the Indonesians can live better and more peaceful lives, said Edy, who was praying at the Kwang Kong temple in Makassar.

After praying at the temples, they held a lion dance performance, heralded by firecrackers.

The lion dance performance attracted the attention of residents of Makassar. Hundreds of them were seen joining the Indonesian Chinese community to see the attraction in front of several temples, including the Kwang Kong and Ibu Agung Bahari.

A traditional South Sulawesi musical group also took part in the celebrations.

The peak of the celebrations in Makassar will be held early next month with the presentation of various cultural arts attractions. All of them will be designed to further strengthen assimilation and interaction with the local people.