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Interfaith community in Semarang holds purification ritual to commemorate Indonesia’s Pancasila Day

Suherdjoko The Jakarta Post    Sun, June 2, 2019

Artist Sosiawan Leak recites a poem about the struggle of the residents of Surabaya in East Java to expel invaders during the colonial era to open an event commemorating Pancasila Day on Saturday in Semarang, Central Java. (JP/Suherdjoko)

SEMARANG, Central Java, Indonesia –   A ruwat (traditional purification ritual) was performed during an interfaith gathering at the Johannes Maria Presbytery of Soegijapranata Catholic University in Semarang, Central Java, on Saturday to express the hope of restoring the country’s unity after the divisive political contest of the recent 2019 general elections.

The event, called Ngabuburit Meruwat Negeri Pancasila, was held in conjunction with the observance of Pancasila Day on June 1. It was opened by local artist Sosiawan Leak, who recited his poetry about the struggle of residents of Surabaya in East Java in expelling invaders from the country.

The recital was followed by series of performances to recall the country’s history.

Representatives from each of Indonesia’s official religions also prayed during the ceremony to bring unity back into the public sphere.

“This event is badly needed as citizens have been polarized lately because of politics. They start to forget their history and their own identity as a diverse nation. Therefore we hold the purification ceremony,” Sosiawan said after his theatrical act using the red-and-white national flag.

The initiator of the ceremony, Father Aloys Budi Purnomo, explained that the ruwat was a cultural tradition to cleanse someone or something of a negative aura.

“The nation has been tainted with a negative aura because of politics. So I proposed for this event to be conducted to commemorate Pancasila Day,” he said.

Religious figures gather to pray in a purification ceremony to commemorate Pancasila Day on Saturday in Semarang, Central Java. (JP/Suherdjoko)

Pancasila, the state ideology, was introduced by founding father Soekarno to carry the motto Bhineka tunggal ika (unity in diversity). In 2016 President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo officially declared June 1 to be a national holiday to commemorate the introduction of Pancasila.

Meanwhile, the chairman of a Central Java forum for religious harmony, Taslim Syahlan, said the country accommodated adherents of various religions, so Indonesia should not be “deflected” in the name of a certain religion.

“Deradicalization must be conducted hand in hand. We must not allow any party that wants to change the state [ideology] and make [Indonesia] a religious state,” he said. (vny)



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