Festivities filled the Pondok Chinatown area in Padang, West Sumatra, on Jan. 25. It was not only because of Chinese New Year — another event, the sugar-filled Serak Gulo, was being held by the Muslim Indian community in the area.
On the day, the community gave out sachets of sugar — weighing a total of 5 tons — to neighbors and passersby at 200-year-old Muhammadan Mosque.
“The sugar is collected from the Indian community here. Some neighbors of Chinese descent often donate sugar for this event,” said Goharjan, a resident of Indian descent.
“The colorful sachets [of sugar] symbolize our diversity. This celebration is intended to convey a message about sharing something good with each other,” he added.
Serak Gulo marks the birthday of Islamic preacher Shahul Hamid, an Indian who played a role in spreading Islamic teachings. He is a 13th-generation descendant of renowned Sufi saint Muhiyudin Abd al-Qadir al-Jalani. Born in Nagore, India, in 1490, Shahul often gave sugar to people around him. Sugar symbolizes prosperity in Indian culture.
For Goharjan and the rest of the Indian community in Padang, Serak Gulo is a way to show their gratitude for all the good things in their lives. They also see it as a tradition that binds them together and reminds them of their roots.