Celebrating Duan Wu Jie Dragon Boat or Peh Cun in Indonesia

10 Jun 2016

On 8 June, those of Chinese descent in Indonesia, like all around the world, celebrated Duan Wu Jie, or in Indonesia better known as Peh Cun in Hokkien.  But since this year the day fell in the month of Ramadhan and the majority Indonesians were fasting, celebrations were kept subdued.

Peh Cun was most prominently celebrated in Yogyakarta, which was opened by governor Sultan Hamengku Buwono X on the beach of Parangtritis facing the Indian Ocean, reported the Indonesian Embassy in Beijing.

Other areas celebrating were in Medan, North Sumatra, and Tangerang, west of Jakarta, where the first Chinese migrants settled on Java. But celebrations were enjoyed not only by the Chinese as local communities joined in all activities in a show of togetherness, harmony and cooperation. It is at such occasions when cultures blend and unite.

In Chinese legend, Peh Cun is believed to contain values of cooperation, perseverance, goodness and willingness to sacrifice when needed.

Most outstanding features of Peh Cun in Indonesia are : the dragon boat races, the Bacang rice cakes, making eggs stand upright, lion and dragon dances and bathing together at noon in the river.

While the Exciting Dragon Boat races - which are equally popular in Indonesia as around the region - have this year been postponed because of the Muslim fasting month, other activities have continued.  The Bacang rice cakes have been warmly welcomed to break the fast, people have tried and succeeded to put eggs upright, and children have dived into the water at noon especially to also escape the blistering heat.  

Bacang cakes are made of rice or glutinous rice. Originally filled with spiced pork and wrapped in bamboo leaves, but in Indonesia these are now filled with either chicken or beef cooked in spices, or filled with sweetened fruits for those who prefer these sweet.    

Bathing at noon in the river is still done in Tanjung Balai in North Sumatra, since it is believed that the water carried downriver by the dragon brings good luck and prosperity.  

But the main highlight of Peh Cun which is always awaited by the crowds, is making eggs stand upright. This phenomena, apparently is possible since the earth, the sun and the moon are positioned in one straight line. This affects earth’s gravity which allows eggs to stand upright without any assistance.  

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