The lunar new year celebration is in sight. The end of this January marks the time for us to say goodbye to the snake and to prepare ourselves galloping with the horse. Not much different than in any other places around the world, Chinese descents who lives in Indonesia celebrate the lunar new year with various kinds of festivity as well as religious rituals.
A few years ago, I had a chance to visit Hok Tek Bio vihara in Bogor in the morning of Chinese New Year. Also renowned as Dhanagun Vihara to the locals, this old establishment stands sturdily at the corner of the road right across Bogor’s iconic landmark, the Bogor Palace.
A pair of white lion statues stands side by side at the vihara’s front gate guarding the entrance. Cloud of smoke and a strong scent of the burning incense tickled my nostrils alll of a sudden as I was stepping inside the establishment.
Rows of brightly lit giant candles illuminated the room and a few people solemnly prayed holding incense between their palms. Intricate reliefs of Chinese Gods are carved on one side of the vihara’s wall.
Hok Tek Cheng Sin is also seen carved on the wall. According to local history, the people who pray in Hok Tek Bio believes Hok Tek Cheng Sin as one of their Gods. He is believed to be Bogor Chinese descents’ ancestor who once lived in Bogor.
After his death, his corpse was buried under a big Banyan tree which once grew at the corner of Suryakencana street. Hok Tek Bio was built in around 1850 and the name derives from Hok Tek which stands for good luck and kindness, while Bio literally means house of worship.