With the country still reeling from the contentious presidential and legislative elections last week, millions of people across the archipelago gathered under collective solemnity to peacefully observe and celebrate Easter on Sunday.
Messages of peace and tolerance are being broadcast across the country amid a string of political controversies surrounding last week’s simultaneous elections.
Christians account for about 10 percent of the 265 million population.
In Kupang, Timor Evangelical Church (GMIT) leader Rev. Mery Kolimon said Easter Day represented a worthwhile opportunity for Christians to provide support and contributions to the public, regardless of religious and ethnic differences.
“Easter encourages us to support one another; no matter what tribe, race or religion we come from,” she said in an official church letter as quoted by Antara news agency.
“True compassion does not demand anything in return; instead, it heals those who are suffering.”
Meanwhile, residents of Madiun in East Java celebrated Easter while acknowledging the feminist spirit of RA Kartini, since this year’s Easter Sunday coincided with Kartini Day, which is associated with International Women's Day.
Father Boedi Prasetijo of St. Cornelius Church encouraged the public to find religious value in Kartini’s non-violent struggle for empowerment.
“We are born into this world bearing God’s light in the form of love and compassion to counteract suffering and wars,” Boedi said.
The Madiun Police dispatched on Saturday officers to secure and guard the church in an effort to ensure safety and order for those who celebrated Easter.
Themes of religious tolerance despite political differences were echoed in the capital city of Jakarta.
Jakarta Archbishop Ignatius Hardjoatmoko called on the public to embrace the true meaning of Easter and not give credence to misinformation and hateful accusations, particularly those hurled at the country’s minority groups.
“[Misinformation] is meant to instill fear among the public. If some people still believe the hateful rhetoric, it means that they have not fully embraced Easter, which essentially means freedom from fear,” Ignatius said on Sunday as quoted by Antara news agency.
He said he was optimistic that the country would soon heal its divisions and reunite as one. Obstacles were to be expected since the country comprised hundreds of millions of people, he said.
“Unity takes patience. We must live harmoniously with each other to progress toward the status of a developed country,” Ignatius said.
The Jakarta Police dispatched around 5,500 of its personnel to safeguard Easter celebrations across Jakarta amid the volatile political climate following last week’s elections.
“Around 5,500 personnel will be deployed to ensure safety. The Jakarta Police have planned the technicalities to safeguard churches holding the celebrations,” police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Friday.
In addition to the police, personnel from GP Ansor, the youth wing of the largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, also helped secure several churches in Jakarta.
In Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, some Christians visited the graveyards of their family members on Saturday night. Antara news agency reported that thousands flocked to a Christian cemetery on Jl. Tjilik Riwut. The cemetery, which is usually dark, was bright with candles because some of them stayed the whole night there.
Hendric, a resident, said he spent a night at the cemetery as part of his personal reflections.
"There is tension with this political situation. I'm doing this to remind myself that nothing is eternal in this world so what we do has to be useful for others," he said.
Around 1,400 pilgrims attended the Semana Santa Good Friday celebration in Larantuka in East Flores regency, East Nusa Tenggara, despite soaring ticket prices.
Father Fransiskus Suar, SVD, a Catholic priest from Larantuka diocese, said Semana Santa celebrated people’s faith and convictions, as well as their participation in last week’s herculean exercise of democracy.
“It is important that we honor both religion and democracy,” Fransiskus said on Friday. (rfa)
Hengky Ola Sura contributed to this report from Larantuka.Artikel Asli