Giant indigenous Indonesian 'ondel-ondel' figures lead an interfaith walk on May 4 to mark the Jakarta Archdiocese's 212th anniversary. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari/ucanews.com)
The Jakarta Archdiocese celebrated its 212th anniversary with an interfaith walk attended by more than three thousand Catholics as well as adherents of other faiths.
The archdiocese's history dates back to 1807 when the Apostolic Prefecture of Batavia — the old name of Jakarta — was established.
Participants, some in traditional attire, on May 4 walked several kilometers in support of harmony and acceptance of religious diversity, starting and ending at Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral Church.
In the presence of various government officials and religious leaders, the program included Islamic pop music, an ethnic-Chinese Barongsai lion dance, giant indigenous ondel-ondel figures and extravagant lion-peafowl dance costumes.
"Your presence in this program encourages us," Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta stated in a speech.
He said the event would help to this year foster the right spirit to implement the fourth principle of Pancasila, the nation's national ideology based on tolerance, under the slogan 'We are wise, our nation becomes dignified.'
Pancasila stipulates belief in one God, a just and civilized society, a united Indonesia, democracy guided by consensus and social justice for all.
Father Antonius Suyadi, who heads the archdiocese's Commission for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs, said the event was mainly aimed at promoting interfaith harmony.
However, he added that it was also an expression of thanks to God for the successful completion of recent presidential and legislative elections.
"I hope this (program) can serve as a symbol of a true brotherhood among us who are part of the national life,” Father Suyadi said.
Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, who officially kicked-off the interfaith walk, also championed interfaith dialogue.
"There are two words which show the characteristics of our nation in this interfaith walk, namely diversity and religion," he said.
"These two cannot be separated from Indonesia, a nation which is diverse and religious."
He also praised Jesuit Father Albertus Soegijapranata, who became the first Indonesian native bishop. The government minister noted that Archbishop Soegijapranata had referred to his co-religionists as being 100 percent Catholic as well as 100 percent Indonesian.
Saifuddin said the slogan could be applied to all of the different faiths in Indonesia, be it Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism or Confucianism.
"We are Indonesians essentially," he added.
Nasaruddin Umar, the grand imam of Istiqlal Mosque located near the cathedral church, stressed the need to respect a diversity of beliefs.
“This is what we need to thank God for,” he said.
“Like a painting, it is beautiful if it has a configuration of colors and placed in a 'sacred' frame called Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).”
Maria Magdalena Frida, from St. James Parish in North Jakarta, joined the program to build interfaith harmony and opined that the "goal is good".
Yusy Sari, a Muslim woman from northern Jakarta, said she was invited to the event by her Catholic neighbors.
"We need to respect each other,” she added.
Watch this ucanews.com video to see more of the day’s celebrations: