Red lantern flares during night in Singkawang, West Kalimantan Province, Indonesia, ahead of Cap Go Meh Celebration 2 March 2018. (Sr. Maria Seba SFIC)
Singkawang city in West Kalimantan Province, Indonesia, is now hosting this “Cap Go Meh” Festival that has always gained nationwide attention due to its colorful rituals performed by local Dayak natives along with their fellow Chinese-ethnic citizens.
During this “Cap Go Meh” festival, Singkawang has always been becoming the nation’s number one tourist destination.
Singkawang is located almost 150 km from the provincial capital of Pontianak and it takes almost three hours by car. No train and direct flight service is available.
However, Singkawang has always gained public attention due to its natural beauty in nature, landscape and cultural-ritual habits during the “Cap Go Meh” celebration –15 days after the Chinese Lunar New Year.
The word of “Singkawang” derives from these words San Kew Jong (in Hakka’s pronunciation Shan Kou Yang that means Mountain Mouth Seas. Singkawang popularity has gone far beyond its boundaries.
For most Indonesians and its local Chinese people, Singkawang is also known for its term as ‘The City of Thousand Temples’ due to its great number of the praying people where all Kong Hu Chu congregation are used to coming to perform their praying and delivered their offerings.
Cap Go Meh Festival
It is within this atmosphere during its “Cap Go Meh” Festival that Singkawang gains its worldwide popularity among domestic and foreign travelers. Despite its amoy –the very special term to identify local Chinese natives—Singkawang is the home of Cap Go Meh Festival and the undeniable exoticism of Tatung, red lantern parade.
One day earlier before Cap Go Meh, red lantern festival is performed. The next day is a time to ‘cleanse’ all roads that will become the main access of Cap Go Meh festival.
Cap Go Meh has also becoming a special day where inner circles of relatives are reunited and enjoy their togetherness as relatives by enjoying a variety of food and beverages at home. Angpau is presented to any as-yet unmarried attendees of this family gathering.
Accessories are red-made. This color symbolizes goodness, ultimate joy and prosperity as well as shows happiness and good spirit which will bring them to fortune and good luck.
Indonesian China town
Singkawang and Pontianak are sometimes considered as the nation’s “China Towns”.
During this 2018 “Cap Go Meh” Festival, there are dozen thousands red lanterns that light up Singkawang. There are also 12 shiau available in some streets.
In Pangeran Diponegoro boulevard, there will be ornaments representing the 12 shiau (Chinese zodiacs) combined with artistic lanterns 2.5 to 3 meter in height which will flare at night. Not to forget to mention are some cultural icons available in the city’s downtown as the following: Bundaran 1001 AI, Tugu Naga Emas (gold dragon monument), Gereja Ayam (Chicken Church) built in 1925, Metropole Cinema established in 1954, Waterboom-Taman Cinta (a fresh tourist destination) and culinary spots.
According to chairman of the Chinese New Year and Cap Go Meh celebration, Mr. Tjhai Leonard, the celebration is expected to be spectacular with several competitions such as barongsai (lion dance), Ako-Amoy and karaoke.
The celebration will also be joined by a number of Tatung (the Hakka Chinese word for a person who is possessed by gods or by the spirits of ancestors). “We will organize these tatung and we present them with good quality to watch as interesting and beatiful performance,” he concluded.
In addition to Tatung attraction and parade, there are other interesting attractions that also enliven Cap Go Meh celebration with the presence of 9 (nine) dragons (Qiu Lung) with 9 different colors. “There will also be replicas of the 9 (nine) liong (lion) by our friends from St. Josep’s Singkawang Group and they are planned to be placed at the Singkawang’s Kridasana Sport Hall,” he adds as quoted as saying by local online media www.sahabatrakyat.com.
Cap Go Meh Festival in Singkawang will perform nine dragons to the sky and it is called ‘prosesi bakar naga’ (dragons set on fire) in Kridasana Sports Hall at 15:30 pm.
“Gong Xi Gong Xi. Gong Xi Fa Chai, Happy Chinese Lunar New Year.”
Suster biarawati SFIC (Sororum Franciscalium ab Immaculata Conceptione a Beata Matre Dei) kelahiran Lubuk Sabuk, Sanggau; sekarang ditugaskan belajar di Politeknik Tonggak Equator Jurusan Business English and Management di Pontianak, Kalbar.