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 Monday Jan. 26 starts the lunar Year of the Ox

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BerichtOnderwerp: Monday Jan. 26 starts the lunar Year of the Ox   Monday Jan. 26 starts the lunar Year of the Ox Icon_minitimeza 24 jan 2009 - 22:22

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Monday Jan. 26 starts the lunar Year of the Ox 3223798314_15266a9abe

Big sticks for the Ox: A woker arranges big incense sticks from a table preparation for the celebration of the Chinese lunar New Year at a temple in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, 2009. Ethnic Chinese communities in the world's most populous Muslim country will celebrate on Monday Jan. 26 the start of the lunar Year of the Ox with visits to crowded temples and family banquets.

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BerichtOnderwerp: No lion dance for Chinese New Year in Aceh   Monday Jan. 26 starts the lunar Year of the Ox Icon_minitimeza 24 jan 2009 - 22:23

No lion dance for Chinese New Year in Aceh
Hotli Simanjutak , The Jakarta Post , Banda Aceh | Sat, 01/24/2009 9:28 PM | National

Two caretakers at the Dharma Bakti temple look busy cleaning the temple building in downtown Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh Nanggroe Darussalam province.

The temple, located in Banda Aceh’s Chinatown, an area known Peunayong, constitutes a house of worship belonging to Indonesians of Chinese descent living in the city.

“The process of cleaning is part of the routine activities ahead of the celebration of Chinese New Year,” says Alung, one of the caretakers.

Along with the billion-plus other Chinese people throughout the world, Chinese-Indonesians in Banda Aceh will also celebrate the coming Year of Ox as the Lunar New Year rolls around this Monday.

However, the celebrations in Banda Aceh will not be the same as in other cities in Indonesia and abroad. No major activities have been planned in the run-up to the big day. There are no decorations or ornamental lamps displayed in the houses or shops belonging to the city’s ethnic Chinese.

“Usually, the Chinese here celebrate Chinese New Year only within their own community, by visiting relatives or going to the beach,” Alung says.

As a minority in this Muslim-dominated population, Alung goes on, Chinese-Indonesians have to abide by all existing regulations in Aceh – the only province in the country that has adopted Islamic Sharia law.

Besides Buddhists, Aceh’s minority groups also feature Catholics, Protestants and Hindus. The number of ethnic Chinese here who embrace Buddhism is falling, with many converting to Protestantism and Catholicism.

As a result, many activities and daily practices have had to be limited to within family residences or temples. Many Chinese are also fearful of publicly performing the world-renowned lion dance, known as Barongsai, wary of riling followers of other religions.

“We don’t do that because the lion dance performance is usually conducted in public with loud music. We’re afraid the noise could disturb other people around us,” Alung says.

Adding to the lack of fanfare, there is not a single lion dance group that hails from Aceh. If they want to see a Barongsai performance, local residents must invite a group from other provinces, including North Sumatra.

Since the passage in 1967 of a presidential instruction banning ethnic Chinese the country over from conducting religious traditional activities in public, there has never been a lion dance performance in Banda Aceh. This restriction is still practiced here, despite former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid revoking the instruction through a 2000 presidential decree on religion, belief in God and Chinese traditions.

Ziauddin Ahmad, head of the Aceh Sharia Law Office, claims his office has never actually issued regulations preventing the lion dance being performed in public.

As long as the celebrations do not publicly inconvenience the majority Muslims, he adds, his office did not object to lion dance performances in Aceh.

Data from the Banda Aceh municipal administration in 2007 showed 98 percent of the city’s population was Muslim. The remaining 2 percent comprised 2,316 Buddhists, 619 Protestant, 347 Catholics and 37 Hindus.

Commensurate with the city’s demographics, there are 244 mosques in Banda Aceh, and only three churches and two temples.

At present, the process of building houses of worship for non-Muslims in Aceh is getting progressively difficult, following the issuance of Gubernatorial Regulation No. 25/2007.

A proposal to build a new house of worship must meet special requirements covered in the regulation, include a petition signed by at least 150 people, complete with copies of ID cards.

Each proposal also needs support from 120 other local residents, which must then be notarized by kampung heads with the recommendation of the local office of religious affairs, and another letter of support from the Forum for Religious Followers’ Brotherhood.
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BerichtOnderwerp: Re: Monday Jan. 26 starts the lunar Year of the Ox   Monday Jan. 26 starts the lunar Year of the Ox Icon_minitimezo 25 jan 2009 - 1:11

Passengers rise ahead of Imlek in Indonesia


www.chinaview.cn 2009-01-24 13:36:22

JAKARTA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Exodus of mass vacationers has begun in some big cities in Indonesia since Friday, ahead of Chinese New Year next Monday, the Jarkata Post reported Saturday.

Rising in traffic was reported at the airport in east Kalimantan and at the railway station in West Java, the report said.

However, traffic levels remained normal at airports in Medan, North Sumatra, and Semarang, Central Java, Abdullah Husin, a spokesman for state airport company Angkasa Pura I was cited as saying.

In West Java, the state railway company added 10 executive coaches to its trains to cope with an increase in passenger numbers, which has risen by 20 percent from an average of 2,200 people per day.


Editor: Yang Lina
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BerichtOnderwerp: Re: Monday Jan. 26 starts the lunar Year of the Ox   Monday Jan. 26 starts the lunar Year of the Ox Icon_minitimezo 25 jan 2009 - 1:12

Sunday January 25, 2009
Savouring sweetness of the New Year
By INDAH SETIAWATI and NI KOMANG ERVIANI


JAKARTA: The sweet, sticky smell of sugar drifting across from the hundreds of rice cakes in Nyoman Darmana’s yard stops passersby in their tracks.

They draw a deep breath, savouring the sweetness in the air, fantasising about the delicious cakes that send off such an aroma.

These are kue keranjang, the sticky rice cakes that are the taste of Imlek, the Chinese New Year.

This small rice cake business on Jl Buluh Indah in western Denpasar, is run by Darmana, 60, and his wife Putu Juniarti, 42. The couple are grateful for the additional income the joyful season of Imlek brings, and lower profits due to the high price of sticky rice and kerosene have failed to dampen their pleasure.

“I have been making kue keranjang for Imlek since 1983,” Darmana said.

“This is the blessing that we can only get during the Chinese New Year, so I am very grateful.”

The Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Monday, is the most highly anticipated festival for the island’s producers and sellers of kue keranjang.

An obligatory treat on Chinese tables at this time of the year, the rice cake or Nian Gao (year cake) carries a deeper meaning and spiritual hopes for the Chinese and their descendants. It is a symbolic wish for a better future. Moreover, it is believed that when friends eat cakes together, the sticky brown confection strengthens their friendship.

For Darmana, it strengthens his finances too. He generally makes a 30% profit on average sales, to the value of up to Rp20mil (RM6,250). From his kitchen, he supplies 10 stores in Denpasar, selling each rice cake for Rp9,500 (RM3).

About 15 days before this merriest of the Chinese festivals, Darmana hired four neighbours. This small team has made about 2,000 rice cakes this year – weighing in a total of about 800kg.

In preparation for the cooking, Darmana purchases at least 650kg of sticky rice and 600kg of sugar; they produce 275 rice cakes a day.

Producing the cakes requires perseverance and patience: The process from grinding the sticky rice to steaming it takes about two days. The single delicate step of wrapping each individual cake in plastic to stop the dough from spilling out is a daunting task, another rice cake baker admitted.

“It takes a long time, a very long time, to wrap hundreds of rice cakes,” Sara Yenny said.

This year, Yenny and her employees have made around two tonnes of rice cakes – they got started on it two and a half months ago –and sent them to markets in Bali and Surabaya, East Java.

She and her husband, Jhon Joshua, started making rice cakes in 2003, after the 1998 economic crisis inflicted substantial losses on their business supplying motorcycle spare parts.

“’If you cannot get a job to earn money, then make and sell rice cakes’. My ancestors pass this message down to every generation,” Jhon said.

He said the business got better every year because they could sell their cakes to major traditional markets and supermarkets. In previous years, they turned out one tonne of rice cakes, and since improving their cakes’ quality, have been receiving larger orders from Surabaya.

“Actually, I felt a bit worried about the current financial crisis,” Jhon said.

“When I took 500 boxes with four rice cakes each to a supermarket in Surabaya and saw a mountain of other rice cakes in the store, I wondered whether all of them would be sold.”

The store manager calmed him down, saying, “Don’t worry, these piles of rice cakes will be sold out several days before Imlek.”

Yenny said the rice cakes, which can last for one year if kept in the refrigerator, can be eaten in a number of ways. People can cut a cake into pieces, dip it into egg, add salt and fry it. Or steam it first to make it softer and serve it with grated coconut or warm, thick coconut milk.

“Anyway you choose, the rice cake will still taste great. I can assure you of this because we have always feasted on our leftover rice cakes,” Darmana said, grinning.

Xi nian Kuai Le. Wishing you a happy - and sweet - lunar New Year.

The Star
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