The Festivity of Chinese New Year in Singkawang, Semarang and Beijing
Chinese new year (Imlek or Sin Tjia) has a special place in history. Originally, Chinese new year was the celebration held by Chinese farmers to welcome the spring. This celebration involved praying together to show their gratitude and hopes for the next year, and Cap Go Meh ceremony. At each Imlek while praying, the farmers presented at least 12 kinds of food and 12 types of cakes representing each shio or Chinese zodiac. The cakes were mostly sweet as they hoped for a sweeter life in the next year. Imlek celebration is usually associated with various attractions such as barongsai, fireworks and dragon replica as parts of the parade around the city. Here are some of the stories from several cities with their legendary Imlek celebrations.
Cap Go Meh in Singkawang
Cap Go Meh, held 14 days after Imlek, has been part of Singkawang’s tradition and a major event which attracts a lot of attention. The tatungs (men possessed by the spirit, and in result, they are pain-proof while committing dangerous actions) are a inseparable element of Cap Go Meh Festival in the city, which is located in West Kalimantan. Hundred of thousands of people gather on the main streets in Singkawang to witness the tatungs perform their skills at the colossal event. The Singkawang tradition perfectly frames up various other cultural legacies which are equally as wonderful. Here we find ceramic heating using the rare Tungku Naga or dragon kiln, popularly known as the maker of high-quality ceramics.
Semawis Market and Sam Poo Kong, Semarang Signature
The city of Semarang in Central Java has its own Imlek celebration. As the Chinese new year approached in 2004, Semawis Market was conducted. It was a night fair in the Chinatown area. This night fair still exists up as part of the Imlek celebration. In many corners, it is easy to spot decoration sets such as red lampions or banners with red and gold ornaments. There are also several art and cultural performances, ranging from classic opera, barongsai, wushu to potehi (Chinese puppet show). Visitors can also indulge in the abundance of oriental culinary products. Javanese noodles, fried rice, wedang ronde, es conglik and nasi pela keep the visitors happy to stay at Semawis Market. Semawis Market aside, Semarang is also known as home to unique and historical Chinese temples. Tay Kak Sie Temple on Gang Lombok and Siu Hok Bio on Jalan Wotgandul Timur are only a couple of them. Imlek celebration is also held at Sam Poo Kong Temple. This year, they plan to stage an art exhibition at the temple. For that reason, a stage for art performance will be built with Dewa Bumi of Earth God as its theme. This stage will have 32 pillars, 4 pillars on the sides and 4 additional building. The climax of Imlek celebration at Sam Poo Kong Temple will take place at midnight.
Beijing, the Elegant Historical City
Beijing has silently witnessed the transition between dynasties and revolution afterward. These days, Beijing is one of the most famous cities in the world, offering spectacular tourism attractions for those who want to look at Chinese history. Beijing also boasts the world class shopping centers which get even livelier during the celebration of Imlek. One of the most popular spots in Beijing is Wangfujing Street, where you can buy almost anything from clothes, accessories to souvenirs. If you feel tired, why don’t you stop by a restaurant that serves up Chinese traditional food. Make sure you have the time to visit Temple of Heaven (Tiantan), the witness of Beijing history built on the ground that covers 267-ha area. In the marvelous temple, there are 28 pillars that represent 4 seasons, 12 months and 12 12 shichen (Chinese ancient calendar system).
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