Reviving the memory of the historic voyages of Admiral Cheng Ho from China into Indonesian waters, the provincial government of Central Java in collaboration with the leaders of the Tay Kak Sie Temple, Sam Poo Kong Temple, and the Chinese Community of Semarang will stage the Cheng Ho Cultural Festival on 30th to 31st July 2016 in Semarang, capital city of Central Java Province.
The festival will start with prayers and rituals, and highlight art performances, seminar and business meetings, with as pinnacle a cultural parade starting from the Tay Kak Sie Temple moving to the Sam Poo Kong Temple. Thousands of people will join the 6Km cultural parade carrying a statue of Admiral Cheng Ho - elsewhere better known as Zheng He. The cultural parade follows the voyages made by the great admiral and his fleet as they made their way to reach Semarang.
Since he commenced the expeditions in 1405 until he passed away in 1433, Admiral Cheng Ho conducted 7 (seven) consecutive international expeditions, visiting 37 countries in the course of 28 years. In these expeditions, the admiral called on countries from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In his 5 expeditions to the Indonesian Archipelago, Cheng Ho successfully introduced Chinese technology and lifestyle to the population. At each place he visited, the admiral also planted a strong feeling of brotherhood with the inhabitants by building mosques and houses of prayer that show acculturation, fusing the culture of Islam with Chinese traditions and local beliefs and ways of life.
During one of his voyages in the 15th century, the admiral set foot on the northern coast of Java at the Simongan Beach in Semarang. Finding a small cave in a rocky hillside, Cheng Ho chose the site to pray and later built a small temple on the location.
After a short sojourn Cheng Ho left Java, however, many of his officers and crew decided to remain and settle in the area. They inter-married with local women evident from the many Simongan residents today who are from Chinese descent.
In later years the Sam Poo Kong (also known as Gedung Batu/the Stone Building) Temple was constructed on the site where Cheng Ho prayed and meditated. The temple still stands today and is the oldest Chinese temple in Semarang.