Chinese New Year 2021 falls on 12th February whilst Indonesia is still experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thus, usual traditions to celebrate the lunar new year have had to be halted.
Boen Tek Bio Temple, which is the oldest temple in Tangerang, is implementing a number of restrictions and eliminating several traditions to prevent crowds and potential transmission of COVID-19 among its followers.
Secretary of the Boen Tek Bio Temple Management Agency, Ruby Santamoko, said that this temple has 7,000 members, but only about 10 percent are predicted to carry out prayers this year. Instead, people are urged to prioritise praying at home.
The temple is also requiring people who come to obey health protocols and is preparing a flow of activities so that crowds do not build up.
“We have a maximum of only 30 people for each group at the central altar. We hope that the elderly and children do not come, as well. We have conveyed this some time ago,” said Ruby.
A number of traditions and art performances that usually mark the coming Chinese New Year celebrations have also been eliminated. There are no barongsai performances, potehi (shadow puppets), large candle offerings, blessing banquets, or vegetarian food which usually takes place after prayer.
“After prayers, you have to head home,” Ruby added.
However, Ruby hopes that this activity limitation does not reduce the sense of solemnity and the meaning of the Chinese New Year celebration.
Preventing mass crowds and not visiting each other for a while is also an effort to maintain family harmony and integrity as one of the philosophies adhered to by Chinese people.