The Jakarta Post
Thousands of Hindus from the Indian-Tamil community in Medan, North Sumatra, held a joint prayer Wednesday for the wellbeing of the nation while celebrating Deepavali at the city's Shri Mariamman Temple.
The Indian-Tamil community expressed its gratitude for the peaceful and smooth leadership succession in the country, saying the country's new leader could become a unifying force for the nation.
In his sermon during Deepavali, High Priest M. Chandran Bose urged all the children of the nation, especially those of Indian descent, to support the new government led by President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi. Chandran expressed his hope that Jokowi would bring further progress and welfare to the nation.
'Let us pray to our new leader to work well and honestly so he can bring prosperity to the people of Indonesia,' Chandran told thousands of Indian-Tamil residents celebrating Deepavali at the temple in Medan.
Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in the city that is located on Jl. Teuku Umar, was built in 1884 by Renggasamin and later renovated in 1998, and is managed by S. Marimutu.
The temple is a center for activities among the Hindu community in North Sumatra, even those from overseas who often visit. During this year's Deepavali, a number of Hindus have traveled to the temple from Malaysia and Singapore.
'This is the first time I have celebrated Deepavali at the Shri Mariamman Temple. I'm very impressed,' Yuvaveeraraj, a Hindu devotee from Malaysia, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Yuvaveeraraj, a dentistry student at the University of North Sumatra, said he usually celebrated Deepavali with his friends at his boarding house in Medan, adding that he had not returned home for Deepavali for the past three years.
'I'm sad, but the atmosphere here has made me happy because the Deepavali celebration is very lively,' Yuvaveeraraj said after attending a series of Deepavali events at the temple.
Part of a five-day Hindu observance known as the 'Festival of Lights', Deepavali signifies the victory of dharma (good deeds) over adharma (evil deeds). During Deepavali, Hindus perform a prayer called the Maha Puja Deepavali.
The Maha Puja Deepavali begins with bajena, a Hindu devotional song, followed by pratene, or prayers. After praying, Hindus perform tianam (meditation), which is followed by a darma wacana (sermon).
The sermon is followed by an arati procession of obtaining light, and it is wrapped up by applying white, red and yellow marks on the forehead of each devotee.
Chandran said the Maha Puja procession was the core of the Deepavali celebration, and was aimed at appeasing the hearts of Hindus who openly celebrated the occasion.
'It means not to be tempted to do evil things,' said Chandran, who serves as temple leader.
Besides Medan, Indian communities in Jakarta also celebrated Deepavali.
Earlier, the Jakarta Manpower and Transmigration Agency asked all employers of Indian nationals and Indian-Indonesians to allow them to celebrate Deepavali.
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