For centuries Chinese communities have settled and assimilated their culture and belief with native across the archipelago. But their love of food and feast remain strong and the Chinese New Year celebration is the best time to flaunt that. From the first day (this year will be on February 10) until the fifteenth day of the New Lunar Year, you can see thousands of red lanterns, lion dances, burning incense sticks and people clad in red and golden clothes, all to show the spirit of welcoming the new zodiac. Now we take you to some great destinations where you can see the Chinese feast, Indonesian style.
The small city mostly populated by Hakka Chinese is famous for the Capgomeh, or the fifteenth day celebration. As the finale of the New Year Celebration (this year on February 24) hundreds of Tatung – men possessed by spirits of Gods- will parade the main street of Singkawang in fascinating costumes and create an eerie spectacle to remember. See locals paying homage to Gods and ancestors in the oldest temple Tri Dharma Bumi Raya. Traveling to Singkawang is easy as buses connect the city with Pontianak.
This might be the best time to travel to Pangkalpinang as the sight of thousands of big and small candles lit by prayers in Kwan Tie Miau, the oldest temple in Pangkalpinang will create a magical feeling. And as there is a Chinese majority here, you can feel the ambiance of new year celebration almost in every part of the city. Lion dance performances will highlight the celebration as well as fire cracker shows.
This is the hometown of Tjong A Fie, the wealthiest Chinese in the world in early 20th century, so you can expect a grand New Year Celebration here. Stunning temples such as Setia Budi, Gunung Timur and Matreyana Cemara Asri are where worshippers come to burn incense sticks and pray for their luck in the upcoming year. Travel to Medan earlier for the Imlek Fair (Jan 25 to Feb 3) at CBD Polonia Medan.
The recent floods might effect this years celebration but worshippers will still flock Petak Sembilan temple to pray for the new year. The 17th century building is located in Glodok, a traditional enclave for Chinese from a bygone era. You can visit Pancoran market nearby to buy knick knacks imported from China. Giant malls, especially those in west and north Jakarta, offer a series of interesting events, from fireworks, food bazaars and lion dances from early February.
You’d better get here earlier as The Semawis Imlek Market is to be held from 6-8 February. Here you can enjoy local delicacies with Chinese influence, see potehi puppet shows, meet fortune tellers and join the lion dance as locals shop for decorations for the celebration. Join the crowd at Sampokong, Tay Kak Sie and Siu Hok Bio, the three best temples in Semarang.