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Surakarta ready for month-long Chinese New Year celebration

Ganug Nugroho Adi

The Jakarta Post

Surakarta, Central Java  /  Mon, January 29, 2018  /  12:03 pm
Surakarta ready for month-long Chinese New Year celebration

Visitors enjoy a boat ride during the Imlek celebrations in Surakarta, Central Java, in 2017. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Surakarta is set to celebrate Chinese New Year with various activities over one full month from Feb. 2 to March 2.

Since last week, thousands of lanterns, neon boxes and year-of-the-dog-related accessories have adorned the Pasar Gede area, which serves as the city's Chinatown.

The celebration itself, locally known as Imlek, will kick off with the Grebeg Sudiro tradition from Feb. 8 to 15 at Pasar Gede, which includes a carnival showcasing the acculturation between China and Java. Visitors can expect to marvel at a parade of liong (dragons), barongsai (lions), reog (masked dance), gunung (mountain) dance, lanterns as well as contemporary dances put on by the Kasunanan Surakarta and Mangkunegaran palaces.

A gunungan (cone-shaped float of offerings) filled with tens of thousands of kue keranjang (basket cakes) will also be paraded around the area before being flocked by the crowds, symbolizing the Javanese people's gratitude for the blessing from god and their prayer for a better life this year.

The event's committee head Sumartono Hadinoto told The Jakarta Post on Sunday that Grebeg Sudiro was proof that all races and ethnic groups live together peacefully in Surakarta and respect one another.

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"In several kampongs, there have been many mixed marriages, and the participants of this Imlek celebration in Surakarta are mostly Javanese," he added.

The Imlek event in Surakarta is being held over one month, since it is also celebrating the Cap Go Meh Festival, which is usually held two weeks after Chinese New Year's Eve, which falls on Feb. 15.

"This year there will be no fireworks; we're still discussing the alternatives. Probably barongsai or a laser attraction on the walls of Pasar Gede. The plans are not yet fixed."

Surakarta Tourism Agency head Basuki Anggoro Hexa said visitors who participated in the event could also enjoy a boat ride on Pepe river, which has been adorned with thousands of lanterns.

"We will also hold a night market at the edge of the river, complete with traditional Javanese ambiance," Basuki added. (kes)