Chinese New Year at Pho An Thian Temple, Pekalongan
Red shades decorate Jalan Belimbing in Pekalongan, welcoming the Lunar New Year. The area, that is known as the Chinatown of Pekalongan, were brimming with lanterns. Festive! At the corner of Jalan Belimbing, in silence, the dragon at the ends of the red roof of Pho An Thian’s Temple dissolves in its splendor.
The temple, that has stood since 1882, is dominated by red colors. Two dragon statues fighting for a gem reinforce the meaning of the name Pho An Thian: The Palace of the Gem of Safety. The name pinned with the hope that people who pray at the temple will receive priceless salvation.
Welcoming the Lunar New Year, this Tri Dharma’s place of worship of turns lively. Some special rituals to welcome Imlek (Chinese/Lunar New Year) were held. One of the rituals is the Cieswak celebration which consists of cleaning up, praying, and casting away bad luck. This is consistent with the Chinese tradition: the unwritten necessity to clean up the house to welcome the new year.
What are the sequences of Cieswak rituals?
The cloak of the revered Gods/Goddesses will be replaced, the corners of the room are cleaned, the display is waxed until polished. When the House of the Gods is already cleaned, worship ceremonies will be held to ask for blessings and salvations to face the year
The ceremony will be led by a Shifu.
Our clothes or other types of clothing–that have been prayed upon previously–will be branded one by one, according to the consent of the Gods. This agreement is represented by throwing two coins into the air. If the surface of the first and the second coins that fall on the ground is different, it means the answer is ‘yes’. If both surfaces are similar, that means ‘try again’.
Each shirt and each piece of clothing must get the God’s approval.
The stamped attire is like a prayer that should be worn for three consecutive days. It doesn’t have to be all day long. For instance, it’s enough to wear the attire only when you’re about to go to bed. After the process has been completed, the prayer papers–that were previously placed in the rice container will be burned.
Mandarin oranges, that have also been prayed for, will be brought home to be eaten with the whole family. Mandarin oranges become a symbol of hope, for the year ahead to be as sweet as the oranges.
This year, Cieswak ritual was held on February 4th. For anyone who is interested, this ritual is open for public. No need to worry, because all the materials required have been provided in Po An Thian. Just give some donations in exchange of these materials, and enjoy the excitement of Pekalongan throughout the Lunar New Year celebration!
Pho An Thian Temple also conducted a joint prayer on the eve of Lunar New Year. The goal is, of course, to thank the years that have passed and ask for blessings in the coming year.
Finally, celebrating Lunar New Year is incomplete without its typical dishes. Chinese New Year is always synonymous with kue keranjang (keranjang means basket); a round-shaped cake that is similar to Indonesian’s sticky cake, dodol–for its chewy texture. The sticky kue keranjang has its own meaning: to keep the family stick together. In each sweet bites, a prayer is tucked in for life in the coming year to be as sweet as this cake. May our blessings comes around, smooth, and flowing!
Pho An Thian Temple
Address: Jl. Blimbing, Sampangan, Pekalongan Tim., Kota Pekalongan, Jawa Tengah 51126