A Golden Fiery Ring on a New Horizon

By Yacob Yahya
(892 words)

Solar eclipse happens on Chinese Lunar-Calendar New Year Day (Imlek) in Indonesia and how two different customs in tolerable situation greet the moment.

TODAY is January 26th, 2009. Ah, no. It is the first day of 2560 which means Bull Year -according to Chinese Lunar-Calendar. Soil Bull Year, exactly. Some people believe it is Year of Fire Bull. A year of hard-working. As ordinary people, I don’t really take a notice, I don’t pay any serious attention on it. However, Gong Xi Fa Cai, Happy New Year for you, glad to say it from the bottom of my heart.

Chinese people, including descendants living in Indonesia, celebrate the moment. Dragon and tiger dance (liong and barongsai) on traditional Chinese temple (klenteng), mall, store, and other crowded places. People bring and share a lot of golden lemon, lokam orange, basket cookies (kue keranjang), and angpau to their relatives and the poor.

Angpau is money covered by a little envelop, most red color.

In New Order (Orde Baru) era led by President Soeharto, Chinese traditions –such as puppet, liong and barongsai– are forbidden to be shown to public. The descendants hide their traditional name and turn them into “Indonesian” name. In 1997-1998, as result of economic and monetary crises that make Soeharto went down, riots and chaos took place every day. Chaos makers, mostly poor Javanese, entered, stole stuffs -refrigerators, televisions, and other electricity, and burned Chinese’s properties. Many women are raped and killed. A century ago, under Dutch-colonialism era, in Batavia -now Jakarta-hundreds of Chinese are massacred. For decades, many people have stigmatized them. People consider Chinese are rich but greed. History shows that Indonesian-Chinese have suffered for long time.

Habibie who replace Soeharto held transitional general election in 1999. The new Parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR) chose Abdurrahman Wahid as president. The Nation Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa, PKB) politician made some steps to liberate situation.

From the moment on, the country condition is better. Press meets its freedom. Information Department (Departemen Penerangan, which literarily means “Enlightenment Department”), which powerfully control Indonesian press, closed down and replaced by Communication and Informatics Department (Departemen Komunikasi dan Informatika). Legislative and executive launched Law of Press, Number 40 Year 1999.

Chinese dancing allowed to be shown, their traditional festival allowed to be held.

His successor, Megawati Soekarnoputri –of Struggle Indonesian Democracy Party (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan, PDIP), eventually stated Imlek as National Holiday, from 2004 on.

In 2006, Parliament and Government produced Citizenship Law (Undang-Undang Kewarganegaraan) which allow Chinese descendants practice politics. They are allowed to be chosen, not just to choose, as Dewan member, through general election (Pemilu). They can be caleg or calon legislatif, or beyond parliament member.

Indonesian-Chinese people found their milestone.

Indonesia is the biggest Moslem country, according to its populations. It consists of approximately 220 million people, 80 percent of them are Moslem. Who have brought Islam here? Chinese for centuries have spread it to Nusantara -nowadays considered as Indonesia-through trading and interactions. Considered or not, Chinese have huge service to Indonesian.

I am myself Moslem.

“COB, IT’S TIME. It’s two o’clock,” my mom wakes me up.

“Uh oh,” I sigh and want to continue my nap.

“But you have to go to mosque,” my mother insists.

Solar-eclipse is predicted happens today. It perfectly could be seen in Lampung and Anyer West Java. Moon go rounding earth and sometimes it “covers” sun shining at the noon. Because moon is smaller than sun, the “covering process” forms “ring-shaped-sun”.

Moslem consider eclipse -both solar and lunar-is just ordinary nature phenomenon. When it happens, it is right moment to spell tasbih, “Subhanallah, subhanallah, subhanallah…” (The Holiest God), to consider the greatness of God.

The Last Prophet Muhammad tough people to pray on the moment, until the sun or moon “goes normal” as usual. The prayer is called salat kusuf. Kusufus-syamsi for solar-eclipse and kusuful-qomari for lunar-eclipse. The prayer is consists of two rakaat, and closed by a sermon.

I want to go to Baitunnur Great Mosque, the biggest mosque in Pati, my hometown. I never do such of prayer before. It is rare moment. And it is sunnah-muakadah worship, that means “very-important-to-do”.

Baitunnur means house of light.

I join the jamaah (congregation) that consist of several lines of saf. Imam, the leader of prayers, stands in front of jamaah. There are three lines of male saf -every line consists of 10-15 people-and four lines female saf -every line consists of eight people- behind the men.

I feel overwhelmed. Peace. Blessed. I surrender totally to You.

It is the first time I do kusufus-syamsi prayer. It is a rare moment. An astronomy expert of Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Body (BMG) predicts solar-eclipse could happen again in Indonesia in 2016. “Solar-eclipse could happen twice a year and lunar-eclipse can take place three times a year and can be viewed not in same place consecutively,” he says to “Buletin Sore” news program of RCTI television station.

AFTER PRAYING, I don’t want to go home earlier. I need much time to think of many things. I still enjoy sitting on the mosque verandah. I still enjoy seeing ocean of green-grass on Pati town square, at eastern opposite side of the mosque. Cloudy noon sky hides the moon which across for several minutes covering the sun. No darkness happens and sky on Pati is still blue.

There is still a hope. Peace and wealthy Indonesia is still in the making.

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