Starting from 2002, I regularly visit Imlek Semawis Fair that is located in Chinatown in Semarang. This fair is especially held to welcome Chinese New Year. Different from the previous fair that was mostly located in Gang Baru, this year it was located in Gang Lombok, right in front of Tay Kak Sie Temple. People regard the temple as the oldest and the most complete temple in Semarang.
It was established in 1746. The main purpose of establishing the temple was to worship Kwan Sie Im Po Sat, the Compassionate Goddes. But then, the temple was getting bigger and more Tao Gods are worshipped there. The name of the temple was written on a big board in the gate, including notes about the temple that was established in Emperor Dao Guang (Hokkkian: Too Kong) during Qing Dynasty (Ching Dynasty) that means The Great Awareness Temple.
This year, Imlek Semawis Fair was launched by The Minister of Industry and Commercial, Mari Elka Pangestu. It appeared that people from all walks of life enjoyed the fair regardless their race. The celebration is to a kind of revitalization for exposing Chinatown as one of tourist objects in Semarang. There were some attractions during the launching such as dancing and singing Pancawarna Semawis by Bina Bangsa International School, another dance by The International Nature Loving Association (INLA) and the launching of new type of stamp with the picture of tiger as a symbol of Tiger Year in Chinese calendar.
From what I experience comparing from year to year Imlek Semawis Fair, this year’s celebration was not as big as the previous celebrations. I noticed it from the location that was narrower than the previous ones. It was perhaps due to the celebration took place at the same time as the Warung Semawis that is regularly open during the weekend. Therefore, there were two places that hold the same event. Some people even mistakenly came to Warung Semawis instead of Imlek Semawis (including me).
One thing similar to the previous year, 2009, was Industry Exhibition from Local Regions. We could see a lot of handicrafts in a form of batik, such as table cloth, curtain, even guitar, kitchen utensils and statues. It’s unique, isn’t it? As a visitor, since I didn’t plan to buy, I merely took pictures without asking about the price.
My next place to visit was Tay Kak Sie Temple. Frankly, I love anything about Chinese culture, that’s why I have visited this temple a couple of times. In regular days, it doesn’t open for visitors like me, only for those who want to worship. Since it’s Chinese Year celebration, so it’s open for everyone. I was free to take pictures as many as I could. I was also quite lucky since there was a charity program held by the temple by distributing food aid for the needy. I saw some people were fighting to get the first. It was a bit chaotic. Well, I can conclude that all religions have the same care and share happiness for everyone who needs help by distributing what they need.
people deeply absorbed in their worship
people waiting or distribution
Looking forward to another celebration next year.