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Home >> China
UPDATED: 10:16, February 20, 2007
Roundup: Chinese Indonesians celebrate lunar new year in style
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The ethnic Chinese communities throughout Indonesia celebrated Chinese Lunar New Year in style and attracted lots of local people to join in.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese Indonesians visited temples for praying to their ancestors and gods on Sunday, the first day in year of pig.

In Jakarta's Glodok China town, the most famous and oldest temple Dharma Bhakt, hidden behind a busy market down a narrow street, was filled with visitors celebrating the Chinese New Year, which is known locally as 'Imlek' in Indonesia.

"In the first day of the New Year, burning incense, setting off firecrackers, and praying to ancestors to ask for happiness and safety are my first things to do every year," said Mrs. Chen Xiuzhen.

"We Chinese Indonesians can not forget our traditions and life styles which last for thousands of years," said Mr. Chen, who is over 70 years old. He and his wife went to the temple accompanied by two sons.

Outside the temple, there were many small local retailers selling flowers, fruits and other sacrificial offerings.

In Yogyakarta of Central Java, Chinese Indonesians are holding a Chinese cultural week, near the southern end of the Malioboro strip, local papers reported.

The 500-meter-long, four-meter-wide Ketandan 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 "2007 Yogyakarta Indonesian Chinese Culture".

The party was opened by Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X on Sunday.

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

The foods had labels, so Muslim visitors did not have to worry about accidentally eating pork.

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

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

The lion dance performance attracted the attention of residents of Jakarta, Makassar and other cities. Many of them were seen joining the Indonesian Chinese community to see the attraction in front of several temples and big malls.

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

Other cities in Indonesia with ethnic Chinese communities like Medan, Surabaya, Batam, Balikpapan and Pontianak also observed the Chinese New Year smoothly and peacefully these days.

Public displays of Chinese culture and religious practices by Chinese Indonesians, who make up around 5 percent of Indonesia's 225 million population, were banned under the three-decade rule of former President Suharto, who stepped down in 1998.

The discriminatory law was overturned in 2000, and it has become a national holiday since year 2002 in Indonesia. The celebrating activities become more and more popular these years.

The Chinese new year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The celebration in Indonesia incorporates customs, beliefs and practices brought to Indonesia by Chinese immigrants.

Source: Xinhua

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