"Diversity is not only a national treasure but also the spirit of our nation," Soesatyo said in a written statement released in Jakarta on Friday. He hoped this year`s Chinese New Year (Imlek) celebration would bring wisdom regarding the importance of diversity.
Soesatyo said the celebration of the Lunar New Year belonged not only to Indonesian citizens of Chinese descent but also to all people of ethnic Indonesia. "In this year`s celebration, I appeal that we especially pray for nation`s teacher KH Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur," he said.
The House Speaker, who is also a Golkar Party politician, said Gus Dur had set an example for being grateful for the diversity as a blessing and a gift from God Almighty.
He further hoped that through the celebration of Imlek, the nation and the state of Indonesia will continue to advance into a civilised nation, respecting cultural diversity and loving the nation`s sons.
Meanwhile, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) tweeted a message to congratulate those celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year and to wish them prosperity this year. The congratulatory message was posted on the president`s Twitter account @jokowi on Friday.
"Wishing Chinese New Year 2569 to those celebrating it. Healthy body, peaceful heart, and always happy. Prosperity is always with all of us," the president wrote on his account at 10.43 am, local time. Some 3,000 people liked the president`s tweet and 1,800 others re-tweeted the message.
The first day of the Chinese New Year 2569 falls on Friday, February 16, marking the start of the Year of Dog. Celebrations generally begin on the first day of the Chinese calendar and end on the 15th, which is often referred to as Cap Go Meh.
The Lunar New Year, otherwise known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated around the world but the main festivities are organised in China as well as other Asian countries. According to the Chinese 12-animal zodiac system, 2018 is the Year of the Dog, succeeding the Year of the Rooster and preceding the Year of the Pig.
Reported by Hanni Sofia