Over 2,000 tourists from China celebrating Chinese New Year in Manado, capital city of North Sulawesi Province, were treated with special festivities that combined a whole range of traditional arts and cultures of the Minahasa, Sangir- Talaud regions, as well as lion and dragon dances performed by Chinese ethnic groups at the ‘Imlek’ Chinese New Year Festival in Manado.
Centered at the Tugu Lilin, Marina Boulevard, the festival kicked off in the evening of 29th January 2017 with a series of art and cultural performances and a gala dinner participated by tourists and local government officials.
The fiesta started with the performance of the mass traditional Maengket Dance of the Minahasa ethnic group followed by Katerili dance presented by hundreds of elementary and Junior High school children which received roaring applause. from the audience. This was followed by the mass Chinese Lion Dance (or locally known as Barongsai), Kung Fu Martial art demonstrations, and other distinct Chinese dances which stunned the audience with their excellence. Equally spectacular, was North Sulawesi’s traditional War Dance “Kabasaran” which also enthralled the audience since the actors performed the duel with real swords and spears.
The pinnacle of the night came when tourists, performers, the local people, and all involved in the festival joined and danced together around the Tugu Lilin Monument. Hereupon, the Mayor of Manado, Vicky Lumentut joined the mass dance that included tourists and local people who all joined in a joyful atmosphere regardless of language barriers and all having a great time.
Chinese New Year festivities will continue with the Imlek Celebration at Sea to be held at LihagaTae Island, in the Bunaken national Marine Park, and at Likupang. The event will take the form of Holiday packages on the beautiful islands which are favorite destinations for Chinese tourists to Manado.
Chinese New Year celebrations in Manado will continue until its pinnacle on the 15th day, or “Cap Go Meh”, celebrated with a grand parade on 11th. February 2017.
Here in Manado, Cap Go Meh, or here more familiarly known as Toa Peh Kong, features the most awaited ritual of extraordinary physical abilities, where “the Ince Pia”, who are persons with extraordinary abilities, pierce themselves through their cheeks, tongues or torso with swords or lances, yet remaining completely unscathed ( just like the Tatungs in Singkawang, West Kalimantan, and the Debus in Banten). Preceding this are also “pikulan” or palanquins containing symbols of deities, that are carried in the parade leading to the main temple.
And all of course accompanied by colorful lion and dragon dances and the bamboo music of Minahasa.
Cap Go Meh celebrations will be centered at the Chinatown of Manado with focus around the main Bang Hin Kiong temple, the oldest temple in the region. This parade closes all celebrations for Chinese New Year.