Imlek at its finest

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A visitor is doing a ritual, inside the temple of Dhanagun, Bogor. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)

IO – Chinese New Year is an important celebration for Chinese people. Lunar New Year celebration begins on the first day of the first month (Chinese); pinyin: zhēng yuè) in the Chinese calendar and ends with Cap Go Meh on the fifteenth (at full moon). Chinese New Year’s Eve is known as Chúxīwhich means “night of the changing year”. The Chinese calendar sets the year 2018 as the year of the earth dog. The new year on the lunar calendar will begin on February 16 and end on February 4, 2019.

Preparing Barongsai & Liong for upcoming Chinese New Year Festival, in Central Bogor. (photo: IO/Yoga Agusta)

The Lunar traditions which are commonly observed in Indonesia are banquet dinners on New Year’s Eve, fireworks, family member visits, and family members perform ceremonies for the ashes of ancestors. Not to be missed, the typical food which accompanies the ceremonies, such as kue keranjang (nian gao or Chinese New Year’s cake, prepared from glutinous rice) and oranges that characterize the Lunar New Year. Not only that, to celebrate it, the Chinese community also serve food on a 6-square, rectangular, or round tray with various contents, such as dried fruit, seeds, nuts, and candies.

Some people also prepare ‘fortune food’ like uncut noodles to symbolize longevity, as well as Chinese money-shaped cakes in ancient times that symbolize wealth. One thing to remember, during the Lunar New Year they are advised to avoid eating porridge because for Chinese people, porridge symbolizes poverty.

In addition, the Lunar moment is closely connected to candles, as the demand for candles on Chinese New Year will increase for the need for worship. For the Chinese community, wax is one means of communication with God. On that day, they pray in the Vihara/Klenteng (temples) with the family.

In the Lunar New Year, do not miss the lion show. Every Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year celebration, the lion dance is a show to be awaited. In Pagoda, Mall, Night Market, Barongsai (Chinese lion dance) is presented to enliven the Lunar New Year. A lion-shaped doll with a scaly body like a dragon is generally carried by two performers. With its dynamic gestures the lion dance becomes entertainment for the Chinese community. From the belief of the ancient Chinese, the objective of holding a lion dance which had previously been blessed in the temple is to cast out demons. (Yoga Agusta)