Multa Fidrus, The Jakarta Post | The Banten Journal | Tangerang, Banten
Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam took part in a dragon boat competition at the 17th Cisadane Festival, which ended on Sunday.
Tangerang Mayor Arief R. Wismansyah said besides the neighboring countries, a number of Indonesian cities including Jakarta, Jambi city in Jambi, Surabaya in East Java, Cilacap in Central Java and Bogor in West Java, also sent delegations to the competition.
He said the festival was not specifically aimed at showing the participants’ competence in driving dragon boats, but was also to introduce a mixture of Chinese, Betawi, Sundanese and Javanese cultures and promote harmony among the different communities in Tangerang.
“Through this festival, we want to show the world that different cultures can live together in harmony here,” he said.
The festival followed the Peh Cun ceremony, which has been conducted every year since 1910.
Peh Cun is celebrated annually at noon on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese calendar, when the position of the sun, the moon and the earth are aligned.
The festival, also known as Duan Yang, has been held up (by Confucians) as “the day of life” or “the day of the sun” with the belief that on this particular day extremely strong energy is produced.
Arief said ethnic Chinese in the regency began Peh Cun by praying in temples and after that headed to the Cisadane River with dragon boats.
“Upon arriving at the river, they sprinkled flowers and bacang [rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves],” he said, adding that they also threw the dust of burned replicas of red and green dragons into the river.
The ethnic Chinese observe Peh Cun to preserve their tradition, while the dragon boat competition shows respect for former Chinese prime minister Khui Gwan who committed suicide by jumping into the river rather than betraying truth, justice and honesty, according to Oey Chin Eng, a spokesman for the Boen Tek Bio Temple in Tangerang.
Arief, who has attended the festival and the Peh Cun ceremony several times, said the ethnic Chinese used to conduct a small ceremony to wash the city’s two oldest dragon boats on Jl. Imam Bonjol in Karawaci, Tangerang.
The ceremony, which attracted visitors, was held by washing the boats, a practice believed to bring luck to them.
“We always conduct a ceremony to wash the dragon boats every year. This ceremony contains positive messages and benefits for the people,” Arief said.
Many other activities, including dancing and singing competitions and a food exhibition, enlivened the festival.
During the three-day event, the city administration also imposed a car-free night to give space to small businesses to sell their products.
Acting Banten governor Rano Karno attended the opening ceremony and gave his appreciation to the Tangerang administration and residents for their good work in preserving the tradition.