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Jakarta Post

Confucians pray for nation'€™s safety, unity on Peh Cun

Slamet Susanto and Arya Dipa
Yogyakarta/Bandung   ●   Thu, June 13, 2013

Chinese Indonesians nationwide observed Peh Cun on Wednesday and prayed for the safety and unity of the nation.

In Yogyakarta, people of Chinese descent and tourists flocked to the province'€™s renowned Parangtritis Beach to join in and witness the Peh Cun rituals and traditions.

Held with the theme of Strengthening Nationalism and the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI), the celebration was expected to inspire the observers with the patriotic spirit of the Peh Cun figure, commander Qu Yuan, who sacrificed his life for his nation.

'€œFor the sake of the state, Qu Yuan plunged into the river and left his people in sorrow. The celebration of Peh Cun is a form of memorial and tribute to him,'€ chairman of the celebration'€™s organizing committee, Muwardi Gunawan, said.

The celebration started with bakcang prayer led by Nyana Jaioti. '€œThis is for the safety and prosperity of people across Indonesia,'€ Nyana said.

Peh Cun is celebrated annually at exactly noon on the 5th day of the 5th month according to the Chinese calendar, when the sun, the moon and the earth are believed to be positioned along a single line. This is believed to alter the earth'€™s gravity so that an egg can just stand up straight without being held.

Hundreds of tourists, together with members of the Peh Cun organizing committee, were seen trying to get eggs upright at exactly 12 o'€™clock.

A similar scene was observed at the Floating Market in Lembang, West Bandung regency, West Java, as hundreds of Chinese Indonesians celebrated Peh Cun.

They used the window of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m to attempt the task. Some eggs stood up straight without being held.

It was the first time in 15 years that Peh Cun in West Java was celebrated in Lembang. Previously, it had been held in Pangandaran.

'€œPreviously, the celebration was organized by the Indonesian Confucian Council'€™s East Priangan region, but this year they didn'€™t organize it so we decided to hold it in Lembang,'€ Pindawati chairperson of the Bandung region, Indonesian Confucian Council said on Wednesday.

Peh Cun, also known as Duan Yang, is considered by Confucians as the day of life or the day of the sun. They believe that on this particular day the sky and the earth a united, making the energy of the sun extremely strong.

'€œConfucians believed that leaves picked up from their respective trees on that day between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. would have a special savor,'€ Irwanto Jo, chairperson of the education division of the Bandung region Indonesian Confucian Council said.

In countries with four seasons, he added, Peh Cun is believed to coincide with the peak of summer. Confucians in these countries usually hold the ritual and prayers at exactly 11 a.m. '€œThe purpose of doing so is to give thanks for all the blessings given to mankind.'€

The celebration started with a convoy of three barongsai (lions) followed by religious leaders. They brought offerings of candles, bacang (rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves), kwecang (glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves and served with palm sugar), fruits and a piece of praying paper or kong zi for the altar.

Right in front of the altar, the leader of the prayers, Mulyadi, read out prayers and thanks for all the blessings. They also prayed for the leaders of the country, law enforcers and the people to remain in harmony with nature. '€œVarious natural disasters are signs that people do not live in harmony with nature,'€ said Mulyadi.