The Jakarta Post
The eve of the 1435th Hijriyah Islamic New Year that fell on Tuesday was celebrated across the archipelago and was marked mostly by prayers for better times ahead in the coming year.
In Semarang, Central Java, hundreds of Muslims flocked to the Masjid Agung (Great Mosque) to join a mass prayer to greet the Islamic New Year.
Celebrations started on Monday morning with Khataman (finishing) the Holy Koran recital, followed by prayers in the afternoon. The prayers were continued in the evening led by cleric Abul Muhaimin Alhafidz.
Similar activities to greet the Hijriyah New Year were also seen in smaller mosques in villages across the city. Some were even seen staying awake until midnight in the mosques.
'We pray together in the mosque to express our gratitude to God and to pray for the blessing of salvation and for better times next year,' Suroto of Tinjomoyo, Banyumanik, said.
Different ways of celebrating the New Year, which also coincided with the Javanese New Year, were conducted by different Javanese adherents of faiths.
They did so by performing special rituals ranging from meditation activities at home to bathing rituals in rivers, termed as kungkum.
In Semarang, the kungkum ritual was performed at the meeting of the Kreo and Banjir Kanal Barat rivers in the Tugu Suharto area.
Meanwhile in Gorontalo, the New Year was celebrated merrily with mass prayers as well as a torch carnival around the city.
Thousands of civil servants in the provincial administration, for example, celebrated by joining a mass prayer held by the provincial administration on Monday evening at the Belle Limbui building.
Gorontalo Governor Rusli Habibie called on people to take the New Year as momentum for self introspection.
He said the hijrah (moving) of the Prophet Muhammad in the past was not just a move from Mecca to Medina but was also understood as an effort to improve the quality and quantity of faith.
'Hijrah also means getting out of a crisis by reformulating concrete steps to go from darkness to brightness, from dirtiness to holiness of the heart,' Rusli said, calling on people in the province to jointly develop Gorontalo for the better.
At the same time, the Bajo ethnic group in Torosiaje subdistrict, Popayato, Pohuwato regency, celebrated the New Year by conducting a torch carnival involving elementary and high school students.
In Gorontalo City and Bone Bolango regency, the celebration was marked with a decorative vehicle parade on Tuesday afternoon.
In Yogyakarta, hundreds of people joined the tapa bisu lampah mubeng beteng (silent marching around the Yogyakarta Palace fortress) ritual to celebrate Javanese New Year.
The annual ritual started with a ballad recital and prayer led by Romo Triatmojo of the Paguyuban Songsong Buwono, which was also the organizing committee of the ritual.
At midnight, the silent marching was started. Participants walked silently together for about 5-kilometers around the fortress.
KRT Pujoningrat of Yogyakarta Palace said the ritual could be understood as a meditation to cleanse oneself and to ask for blessings from God.
'That way hopefully what we are praying for will be fulfilled,' said Pujoningrat as quoted by Antara news agency on Tuesday.
In Surakarta, commonly known as Solo, Central Java, the celebration of the Javanese New Year was marked with the kebo bule (white buffalo) parade held very early in the morning on Tuesday.
The parade involved eight buffaloes and a number of offerings such as cone-shaped steam rice, locally called as tumpeng, as well as fruit and vegetables to feed the buffaloes.
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