Chinese community in Bandung holds Cap Go Meh Festival every year starting last year (2011) called “Kirab Budaya” or simply Culture Festival. People celebrates Cap Go Meh (Cap Go in Hokkien dialect means fifteen) at Saturday, February 11th 2012, supposed to be 15 days after Chinese New Year, lasted from approximately 11 AM until 10:30 PM. The festival was about celebrating the peak of Chinese Year, celebrating the coming of spring, with praying in Buddhist Temple and carrying “Ta Pe Kong” (I believe it is in Hokkien dialect), a small praying temple with their god / goddess decorated with flowers and incenses, following the performances of Lion and Dragon Dances. Carrying Ta Pe Kong is believed to give good luck this year and bring fortunes, especially from God of Fortune. Lion and Dragon Dancers are often invited to the Chinese Shops and homes, that is said to bring good luck and deliver all evil spirits. The spectators are also allowed to give Hong Bao (red envelopes) to invite good luck to themselves. The festival began in small Buddhist Temple in Cibadak Street and people marched toward central Buddhist Temple in Kelenteng Street via Jendral Soedirman Street. It was known as China Town (Pecinan) where majority of the people living there were Chinese descent.

Ta Pe Kong, small carrying temple with god statue

I and my family arrived in Cibadak Street at 3 PM, and waited a while until the city mayor came to visit the temple to deliver a speech. We then moved to Soedirman Street, which was larger in term of street width. The long march started approximatelly at 3:30 PM or such, starting from one police car and 2 police motorcycles, followed by Harley-Davidson groups, the mayor, marching band, and local cultures such as angklung artists, pencak silat martial artists, sisingaan, and then decorated vehicles depicted Chinese cultures such as Sun Go Kong (the legend of Monkey King : Journey to the East), flowery vehicle with Goddess Quan Yin with her maidens, long (dragon) vehicle with 8 great gods (Tian Shang) inside, and boat-like vehicle with the infamous Kuan Yu (Kuan Kung the commander of Shu in Legend of Three Kingdom) with his followers. Following them are the marching soldiers of Republic of Indonesia, carrying the proud Red-White Flags, and people dressed in ancient Chinese soldiers carrying Gong and sets of four-letter-slogans of honor. After those parades, followed the very first Ta Pe Kong as seen above and rows of red-lantern groups.

Eight Great Gods on Long (Dragon) Vehicle

People dressed as soldiers of Ancient China

The Liong (Dragon Dancers) and Barong Sai (Lion Dancers) followed the Ta Pe Kong. Tourists might think the dancers were Chinese descent and the local culture performed by Indonesian (Malay) native, but no! Most of the Lion and Dragon dancers are native! And some local culture performed by Chinese descent! Most of the dancers are from Bandung and Sukabumi. They decorated their lion and dragons – and also Kirin if you can spot one there – with decorated lamps and there was a group performed fire-breathing dragon dance. All Ta Pe Kong followed them, they were from all over Indonesia, from Sumatera to Sulawesi, bringing their dancers group. There was also another performance of a man cut his tongue by a sharp slim metal, wearing Chinese dress and sparkling water – probably to drive off any evil spirits. Owner of Hotin Restaurant hang the Hong Bao by fishing pole on the roof, challenging a tiny lion dancer to ‘eat’ the envelope. The lion-head lifted by the lion-body, standing on his partner’s shoulder and ate it! It was a good performance! There was also flag-wushu performers giving tribute to worship altar, and a cute lion dancer who dropped his red envelope so he pretended to fall down and ‘lick-his-knee’ by splitting.

Dragon Dancers performed by local

I took many photo this year, but unfortunately I was swept by the flood of people so all I photo was people’s heads lol. The festival ended with long burst of fireworks. Then, at night, the blessed long heavy rain covered Bandung.

I pray this year is full of good luck (Fu) and fortune!

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