Imlek As The Symbol Of Social Harmony In Bangka Belitung

Februari 11, 2021

 Oleh: Diana Anggraeni

(Dosen Sastra Inggris FISIP UBB)

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Chinese New Year or also known as “Imlek” in Indonesian certainly symbolizes many things, from happiness, gratitude, prosperity, and many others. It is undeniable that Chinese New Year symbolizes many important things for Chinese communities all around the world and even for the world community as a whole. For the Chinese communities, it is the moment of joy and happiness, a moment to gather with their beloved family, a moment to share “Angpao” with loved one and relatives, and a lot more of joyous moments they have been excitedly waiting for. In the midst of the excitement of welcoming the Chinese New Year or Imlek which will be celebrated on February 12, 2021, we all have to adapt to the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic which has not yet subsided, especially in our beloved country Indonesia. However, this should not diminish the spirit of the Chinese New Year, which should be as festive as in previous years.

According to Ferdinand de Saussure, symbol are consisted of the signfier and signified, as signifier act as the object that stand to be seen or heard, while signifier is the concept or the idea of what the signifier represent, it is sign or symbol that is the result of association between both signified and signifier (Saussure, 1916). When discussing about the symbolism of what does the Chinese New Year represent or symbolize, for the people of the Bangka Belitung islands, it can be said that the Chinese New Year is a symbol of social harmony which has become one of the core characteristic of the Bangka Belitung people. Even though the Chinese New Year is a tradition that is celebrated by the Chinese community exclusively, there are a lot of Bangka Belitung people who come from different cultural backgrounds that also enliven the Chinese New Year atmosphere in the Bangka Belitung Islands. There are many people such as the Melayu, Javanese, and others who come to visit their Chinese neighbors or acquaintances who celebrate Chinese New Year to socialize with each other. The reason why people from other cultural backgrounds came to visit their Chinese neighbors or acquaintances is to show that they are respecting other cultures and wanted to maintain a good relationship with their neighbors. Indeed, the gesture of hospitality between people with different cultures is a symbol of harmony that should be maintained by us and our future generations in order to maintain the unity of the nation. The way that people in Bangka Belitung socialize and react to Chinese New Year with excitement and friendliness despite the differences, shows us that the moment of Imlek is truly a symbol of social harmony in our society.

Moreover, maintaining national unity is an obligation and responsibility for all of us without exception. Maintaining the unity of the nation can be started by respecting the differences among people who are very diverse in culture, we can start by learning to live together with other people in harmony. Appreciating is certainly different from celebrating, many argue that we should not celebrate something that is not the identity of our culture, but that does not mean we should not respect other cultural celebrations. With mutual respect, we have participated in maintaining social harmony and national unity.

Through the presence of the Chinese New Year, it is hoped that the symbol of harmony in the Bangka Belitung community can be maintained. The symbol of harmony should also be accompanied by a deepening of the meaning of tolerance in the community. Would not it be great if the people of Bangka Belitung could become an example for people in other areas as a symbol of harmony based on our high sense of tolerance towards others? Given that the slogan "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" or unity in diversity is indeed our nation's slogan, we should continue to maintain this unity. Furthermore, as 2021 have just begin and now that we are all still in a state of the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems that increasing the sense of togetherness by respecting others may certainly help us all get through this pandemic together.

Happy Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Fa Cai!


Diana Anggraeni. Berprofesi sebagai dosen tetap Sastra Inggris FISIP Universitas Bangka Belitung. Pernah menjabat sebagai Ketua Jurusan Sastra Inggris dari tahun 2018 s/d 2020, dan sekarang menjabat Wakil Dekan II bidang umum dan kepegawaian serta Plt. Ketua Jurusan Ilmu Politik FISIP UBB. Merupakan produk asli Universitas Padjajaran, karena mulai dari Sarjana hingga Doktornya diselesaikan di sana.

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