Short history about the celebration of Chinese New Year or “Imlek” in Indonesia
In Indonesia, around 1968-1999, the celebration of Chinese New Year or “Imlek” is banned to be celebrated on public. With Instruksi Presiden Nomor 14 Tahun 1967, the New Order regime, under president Soeharto, banned everything related to Chinese, including Imlek.
The Chinese in Indonesia got their freedom in celebrating Imlek on 2000 when Presiden Abdurrahman Wahid revoked the Inpress Nomor 14/1967. As a follow up, Presiden Abdurrahman Wahid then released Keputusan Presiden Nomor 19/2001 dated April 9th, 2000, which officially made Imlek as an optional holiday (means that it applys only for those who celebrate it). Then in 2002, Imlek is officially declared as one of national holidays by President Megawati Soekarnoputri starting 2003.
The Celebration of Imlek in Indonesia
The Chinese New Year or “Imlek” usually lasts for 15 days. On Imlek, it is important for Chinese to worship their ancestors by worshipping in funeral, taking care of the lingwei (a wooden board where the names of the ancestors are written), praying for the ancestors on Ceng Beng day (a special day for visiting and cleaning the grave). Thus, on Imlek, the family members will visit other family members who take care of ancestor’s lingwei to pray. They also visit a place where their ancestors’ ashes are kept to pray.