What is it after Chinese New Year?
Did the fun of Chinese New year celebration stop after that?
Well, guess what…….
Precisely 15 days after the Chinese New Year celebration, there is Cap Go Meh.
What is Cap Go Meh?
Cap Goh Meh is a festival celebrated in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar calendar.
In Hokkien dialect Cap Go Meh means the fifteenth evening (cap= ten, go =five, meh=evening). It is also known as the Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao Festival or Shangyuan Festival) in China; Yuen Siu Festival in Hong Kong, Tết Thượng Nguyên or Tết Nguyên Tiêu in Vietnam; and Koshōgatsu in Japan. It officially ends the Chinese New Year celebrations.
This year, as Chinese New Year fell on 19th February 2015, the Cap Go Meh Celebration took place on 5th March 2015.
It is interesting to see how the celebration has evolved through the years and how it is celebrated throughout Indonesia today. It has become a major festival attracting many local tourists to the various cities.
Several Cap Go Meh fairs and parades (including dragon & lion dances) took place throughout the archipelago, sometimes with an interesting local touch.
In Singkawang, Kalimantan, people are attracted by Tatung performers – people believed to be possessed by the spirits of ancestors – the performance has similarities with Dayak rituals and is also performed by local Dayaks.
This year the celebration of Cap Go Meh festival in my country become very special as our President Jokowi attended this celebration in his favorite satellite city Bogor. This visit to Bogor Street Festival Cap Go Meh 2015 was to encourage other cities to do the same to attract more tourist and also for supporting pluralism.
In my country, Cap Go Meh is also associated with a very well-known dish for this festival named “Lontong Cap Go Meh”
What is Lontong Cap Go Meh?
Lontong Cap Go Meh is an adaptation of the Chinese cuisine and Indonesian cuisine, specifically Javanese cuisine.
Today, Lontong Cap Go Meh has become so popular that it is being served anywhere and any time, with nothing to do with the celebration of Cap Go Meh.
Lontong Cap Go Meh is a special phenomenon of the Indonesian Chinese in Java, to be exact in Central Java. The Indonesian Chinese in Sumatra and Kalimantan for example, do not serve this dish to celebrate Cap Go Meh.
So Cap Go Meh is only associated with the Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown in cities on the island of Java, Semarang in particular.
While the Betawi people (Indonesian ethnic group consisting of the descendants of the people living around Batavia/Jakarta from around the 17th century) whose culture is heavily influenced by the Chinese culture, also consider lontong Cap Go Meh as one of Betawi cuisine.
Lontong Cap Go Meh consists of rice cake cooked in banana leaves wrapper
The rice cake is then cut into small pieces and mix with the following dishes:
- opor ayam, a kind of chicken curry
- sambal goreng ati – spicy potato & liver
- pindang eggs (= hard boiled eggs: eggs are boiled slowly mixed with salt, teak leaves and other spices)
- soybean powder
- shrimp crackers
After the rice cake cuts are mixed with all those different dishes
……….this is the look of “Lontong Cap Go Meh”
“Lontong Cap Go Meh 2” by Gunawan Kartapranata Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Sources of pictures are from:
- Picture of “Lontong Cap Go Meh 2” by Gunawan Kartapranata Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org