Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 7 December 2010 • Opinion
This week, Indonesians are having an extra off day, which is today, December 7th. It is the holiday of the Islamic New Year, the 1st day in the Hijri calendar. Hence, the year is called Hijriyah. So it is now the 1st day of the 1st month, which is Muharram, of the year 1432 Hijriyah.
I myself am not an enthusiast for any kind of new year celebration. I guess I just wasn’t brought up that way. But looking in our national calendar, I find it quite interesting that the people of this country celebrate several new years in a year. And the celebrations vary from the quiet and solemn to the loud and festive, and even mystical.
>> The new year New Year <<
It’s the internationally celebrated on January 1st. It starts the year that we call Masehi, derived from the Arabic word for Messiah. As far as I know, it wasn’t until the 90s or maybe even early in 2000s that Indonesians started to celebrate the New Year’s Eve with fireworks. Spending my new year’s eve moments in urban parts of the country, I’ve seen madness in traffic, people trying to be in the coolest parties, hearing trumpets blown in every corner, but some choose to be at a mass in church as well, or celebrate it with closed ones and retrospect the deeds they’ve just done in the past year and make some new resolutions in the year to come.
On the 2009 New Year’s Eve, Mumun and I spent our NYE in Bali as you can see here, and that was just to see what’s really going on and what the fuss was all about.
>> The Chinese New Year (Imlek) <<
There had been frictions between the Chinese descendants (also called Tionghoa) and the Indonesian natives, which I believe had anything to do with the politics. Between the years of 1965 and 1998, any Chinese celebration was banned, and that was stated in a Presidential Instruction clause. Starting the year of 2000, the Tionghoa people are allowed to celebrate the most important celebration in their culture, and starting 2002 it’s become a national holiday. Based on the Chinese calendar, the coming Imlek will be on February 3, 2011. And here you can see a bit about the celebration in North Jakarta.
Picture: courtesy of Cresentia Novi
>> Islamic New Year (Hijriyah) or the 1 Suro <<
The Hijri year consists of 12 lunar months, each consists of 29 – 30 days. Even though muslims are the most occupants in Indonesia, I’ve never seen any grand celebration of it here. Some Islamic communities might celebrate it within their own community or neighborhood, but it’s not as fussy as the Masehi new year. However, the Javanese muslims, especially those in Central Java and Yogyakarta, also called the Kejawen, celebrate the lunar year transition in a more spiritual way. It starts at the sunset of the last month until the sunrise of the next day, which is the first day of the new year. They usually have parades around the main cities, and the sunan (sort of like the holy man) would stay in the palace and chant prayers, and people gather around the parade hoping to get blessings for a better life in the year ahead.
>> Saka New Year (Nyepi) <<
If you’re looking to party in Bali, you don’t wanna do it around Nyepi. Unless your idea of new year party is stay at home or at your hotel room, not turning any lights, electrical equipments, not making too much noise, do as little activities as possible, and meditate. Nyepi is the Day of Silence, from 6 am to 6 am in the next day. It’s the Balinese new year according to their calendar. It is actually a Hindu holiday. But because most of Bali’s native citizen are Hindu, then the rest are expected to respect the holiday by staying in as well. So it’s a kind of a low time for Bali tourism.
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