The 15th day of the Lunar New Year, or better known here as “Cap Go Meh”, forms the highlight of any Chinese New Year celebrations in Indonesia. This is most elaborately held in areas with a large ethnic Chinese population such as in West Kalimantan, Bangka-Belitung and Palembang or in the Chinatowns of Semarang, Surabaya, Jakarta, Bandung, Manado and Medan.
In West Kalimantan, the Cap Go Meh, which this year falls on 24th February 2013, will be celebrated with a vibrant festival in the exotic city of Singkawang.
More than one month before the event, hotels in the city already report full bookings.
Known for its production of fine Chinese ceramics, Singkawang, known for its hundreds of Chinese temples, will have a lantern parade that will take place on the eve of the Cap Go Meh celebrations. As always, the peak of the festival and of the entire New Year series of celebrations will be highlighted with the parade of the ancient art of Tatung.
Intended to repel misfortunes for the rest of the year, Tatung is the principle medium of the Cap Go Meh ritual to reject evil spirits. During the Tatung rituals, its participants will enter into a trance and perform many unbelievable stunts, such as stepping on a sword, or sticking steel wires or nails into their cheeks. It is quite unbelievable to see that despite such torture, the Tatungs are not wounded or even scarred.
This year, over 750 participants are projected to take part in the ritual. The Tatung Parade will commence from Kridasana stadium at the Gusti Sulung Lelanang Street, then move on to the Diponegoro Street, Niaga Street, Setia Budi Street, and will finish at the front of the altar near the dragon statue at Niaga Street.
Celebrated annually on the 15 day of the Chinese Year, Cap Go Meh literally translated means the 15th night, on which the first full moon of the year occurs. As the pinnacle of the entire Chinese New Year Celebrations, this truly amazing cultural event is surely worth traveling for, to watch and experience first hand.
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