Indonesian Muslims welcome Islamic New Year

Indonesian Muslims welcome Islamic New Year

Hundreds of muslims torch parade commemorating the Islamic New Year 1 Muharram 1436 H on October 25, 2014 at Jalan Margonda Raya, Depok, West Java, on Friday (October 24) night. (ANTARA/Indrianto Eko Suwarso)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Muslims in various parts of the country held parades, festivals, dhikrs, joint prayers and various other rituals to welcome the Islamic New Year 1436 Hegira on Saturday.

Thousands of Muslims across the country flocked to New Year commemoration centers and squares to convey prayers and hold festivals or took to the street to parade as an expression of their gratitude to God.

One of the parades in Jakarta was seen in East Jakarta where thousands of children, young and old people flocked to East Jakartas Cipinang Nurul Huda Mosque. Some walked and some others rode vehicles in an orderly manner along the Jatinegara arterial roads.

Several school foundations also organized the New Year commemorations such as the Ar Rizqi which organized New Year well-wishers to parade along the Pemuda Street in East Jakarta.

Large scale commemoration in Jakarta will be held at the Bung Karno Sports Stadium (GBK) on Sunday where hundreds of thousands of Muslim are expected to attend.

General Chairman of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) Din Syamsuddin has appealed to Muslims to attend the Muharram 1, 1436 New Year Hegira commemoration to prove the greatness of Muslims in Indonesia. It is also expected to show that the celebration of the Islamic New year is not less alive then the commemorations of other New Years.

"I offer and appeal to the Islamic communities in Jakarta to jointly observe and celebrate the Islamic New Year at the Bung Karno Sports Stadium on Sunday," Din said at the MUI building here on Friday.

In the celebration of the Islamic New Year, the event will begin at 8 p.m. local time with musicians and celebrities at the Bung Karno Sports Stadium in Senayan sports complex, Central Jakarta.

In conjunction with the New Year celebrations, President Joko Widodo is expected to declare the "Santri Day" (Islamic boarding school students Day). This will be declared in honor of the Islamic new year 1346 Hijra.

"I support any plan of launching of Santri Day, it is a good effort," Din Syamsuddin said on Saturday.

According to Din Syamsuddin, the declaration does not need to be on the 1st of Muharram, but could be any time. The most important part of the declaration was its essence.

"The event tomorrow (Sunday) at the GBK is not related to the issue of Santri Day, but the Islamic new year celebration," he said.

He pointed out that President Joko Widodo may not arrive during the Islamic New Year celebration on Sunday (October 26). "I received information from the Secretary of State, he will not necessarily be present due to his business in forming the cabinet lineup," he emphasized.

In Sumatra, in North Sumatra in particular, thousands of Muslims flocked to the Merdeka Square where they sank in their prayers and dzikr they echoed to welcome the arrival of the Islamic New Year.

During the commemoration, the city government of Medan (provincial capital of North Sumatra) organized a joint grand prayer and dzikr rituals attended by thousands of Muslims from different subdistricts of the province.

The congregations who came from the various sub-districts were directly led by Medan City Mayor Dzulmi Eldin, preacher Tuah Sirait and preacher Ahmad Wijayanto. In his sermons, preacher Tuah Sirait appealed to the Muslims to submit to God.

"Lets observe a moment and asked for pardons from God on our sins and mistakes we have made. May God pardon us for our sins," he said.

In the Sumatran Province of Bengkulu, Bengkulu Governor Junaidi Hamsyah launched on Friday the regions traditional Tabot festival usually held to observe the demise of a grandchild of the Prophet Muhammad. "We hope this festival would attract foreign and local tourists to Bengkulu," the governor said.

The festival will be held for ten days beginning on Saturday, October 25 to November 2, 2014. Apart from a series of rituals held along with the "tabot besanding" and "tabot tebuang" rituals, the festival will also be enlivened with various different contests and arts performance from various districts in Bengkulu.

Besides in Sumatra, Muslims in Kalimantan also celebrated the Islamic New Year of 1436 Hegira. Thousands of secondary and senior high school students paraded through Pontianak, the provincial capital city of West Kalimantan, to mark the Islamic New Year that falls on Saturday.

"Alhamdulillah (Thank God) the parade this year is more alive than in earlier years. This has happened because of the younger generations improved awareness of the meaning of the Islamic New Year and other Islamic commemorative days," Pontianak Mayor Sutarmidji said.

Floats carrying Islamic ornaments, as well as drum bands from schools in the city, were highlights of the parade.

Mayor Sutarmidji was positioned at the start of the parade, which saw participants such as mosque care takers, prayers groups, Islamic boarding schools, city administration officials and state-owned companies.

"We must be grateful for the younger generations care (for religious days), which is now improving. It would be dangerous if their care loosens, as it would take time to restore it," he said.

In South Kalimantan province, Governor H Rudy Ariffin welcomed the New Year with a joint shalat hajat (a prayer conveyed with a special request or purpose) with thousands of Muslims at Sabilal Muhtadin Grand Mosque in Banjarmasin, the provincial capital city.

The governor asked thousands of Muslims taking part in the prayers to ask to God for the safety of the Indonesian people from disasters.

"Lets us pray for the safety of our nation so that it would be prevented from disasters," the governor appealed.

In Lebak, Banten Province, thousands of santris (Islamic school students) held a parade passing on a number of protocol roads in the Lebak District Town of Rangkasbitung, to welcome the Hegira New Year.

The same celebrations were also held in other provinces where thousands of people performed rituals, parades and other activities. The commemorations also took place in Mataram, provisional capital of West Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

Mataram Mayor H Ahyar Abduh saw off about 15,000 participants of hijratul rasul (the Prophet Hegira) parade in front of the Mayors office to welcome the New Islamic Year.

In Biak, Papua Province, at least 1,200 students from kindergartens, elementary schools and secondary schools along with 200 army soldiers and police personnel conducted a walk in welcoming the Hegira New Year.

"Besides observing the New Year, the walks we are conducting could improve human relations and turn our bodies to become healthier," the walk chief organizer Andi Firman said.