JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com - For Chinese people in Indonesia and elsewhere, the Lunar or Chinese New Year is a major celebration that comes with its a distinctive set of festivities and folk beliefs.
While Covid-19 might dampen the celebrations, the pandemic did not stop the party for Chinese communities throughout Indonesia or around the world.
“Everyone observes [Chinese New Year] traditions in their own way. They just adjust it to current circumstances, such as the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Hartanto Wijaya, Head of Operations in Toa Se Bio Temple in Glodok, West Jakarta to Kompas.com on February 11.
This is no less the case with age-old cultural celebration like the Chinese New Year. Here are five traditions that are carried out during the Chinese New Year.
1. Opening the doors until midnight
A well-known tradition of Chinese New Year is praying for ancestors on the eve of Chinese New Year.
"We usually make a pilgrimage to the ancestors' tomb to pray for them," Hartarto asserted. "But since that is not possible [because of Covid-19], we make do by praying at home. After all, we can pray anywhere."
As part of their prayers, Chinese people observing the Lunar New Year will keep their houses or gates open until midnight.
"In ancient times, our ancestors keep the gates or doors of their houses open until the next morning to pray to the god of luck," said Lie Keng Nio or Lili, a staunch follower of Chinese New Year customs, to Kompas.com.
"But nowadays we keep our doors open for prayers up to midnight for safety reasons"
2. Sweeping the house from the outside to the inside
Aside from praying for ancestors, houses are thoroughly cleaned up ahead of the Chinese New Year. Windows will be wiped down, surfaces dusted, and old junk cleared away ahead of the festive occasion.
As with the custom of keeping the doors or gates open, this gesture is rife with symbolism.
"Getting rid of junk and clutter is believed to make space for good luck in the coming year. Sweeping away dust symbolizes clearing away bad luck that accumulated over the past year," explained Hartanto. Lili agreed.