A Walk to Understand

I went on A Walk to Understand on March 25th. A walking tour to places of worship of some religions in Pasar Baru area. In short: Indonesia acknowledged six religions: Islam, Christian, Catholic, Buddha, Hindu, and Confucianism. Despite so, place of worship of other religion is allowed to build if the community in its surrounding area approved the building.

Since last quarter of 2016, so many religious issues surfaced in my country. I believe they all have a political background, though. Moreover in the light of the capital's gubernatorial election. So many people put themselves forward in the name of their respective religions. But I call bullshit. Take my religion off your political agenda. Each and every religion are nothing but build upon views of love and harmony.

We gathered a little before 9 am for briefing and regrouping on Juanda Station. Some came with their friends, others with their well-behaved children and spouses. I came alone, several others too. But it was fun nonetheless. The weather kept on the gloomy track but I'm glad it's not raining throughout our trip.

Istiqlal Mosque

Our first president wanted a central mosque in the capital of Jakarta. Thus he held an open contest for the design. To everyone's surprise, the winner was a non-architect, a Christian, even, named Frederik Silaban with his concept titled divinity. Stood upon former Dutch gardens, Istiqlal Mosque sprawled 12 hectares wide.

I have a lot of memory with this place. Once I entered a Qur'an reading contest here. Also watched dad doing his Friday prayer. Despite I'm not as religious as my younger self, I will always hold this place dearly.

The top of National Monument peeking from afar. Originally the architect want to make a path connecting Istiqlal Mosque to National Monument but it never came to life.

Bedug. Big drum used in Javanese traditional instrument which later adapted as a sign for prayer. I always fascinated how the elders try to assimilate Islam with traditional values instead of completely bring the new concept in the territory. Also, it's where I took the photo of mom in this post.

It was really gloomy throughout the trip. It rained not long in the afternoon. I think I need to point out that I forgot to turn off my HDR setting so many photos look overtextured. Ugh.

St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral

Then we cross the street to the Cathedral. Yes, mosque and church located just across each other. I've been wanting to go in for the longest time. Really. The architecture is marvelous. So gothic and intricate. It was pretty much a love at first sight, really.

The cathedral was built on 1901 and had two fires. Thus upon rebuilt, the dome was strengthened with steel and reinforced with wood. They still pretty much kept things from the era back then when electricity was scarce, including the podium where the Archbishop gives sermon. It was curved so the voice can be heard louder and clearer all the way to the back. The sermon place itself was made of four levels. Hell, animal, human, and heaven, from bottom to top. I love the details.

Some of the participants took their time to pray before leaving.

From here, we walked to Pasar Baru. We passed by the building that was meant to be the palace of Dutch occupation in Indonesia, Ministry of Finance. It was massive! And just across from it, there was Kimia Farma Diagnostika in which the building was rumoredly former Freemason Society's. I have no idea it once existed in my country tbh.

Pasar Baru

Formerly named Passer Baroe, it market of Jakarta back in the days. Chinese sellers predominated, then Arabians and Indians came and stayed to this day. Thus it has a mixed influence, along with some Indonesian touch. It was my first time in the area and I enjoyed it a little too much. Kind of hard to imagine this area was once a rice field, with huge, deep river of Ciliwung in front of it!

We passed by several Indian-based religions' places of worship. Hare Krishna, Satya Sai Baba, and Sikh temple. The guide also told us the stories of respective places. Informative! They are located just along the river next to the busy two lanes street so it was kind of hard to take photos of.

We turned over a corner and found, wait for it, headquarter of Jehovah's Witness. I'm pretty sure you've watched 1-2 movies where there's a scene of their 'agents' come to a house and knocking on the door (along the lines of "Do you have time for Jesus, our lord and savior blah blah"). Funny story, in previous walking tour, there were two Jehovah's Witnesses. In the middle of the tour, they both were missing! Apparently they were still doing their 'mission', recruiting people on the street lmao

I feel oddly accomplished seeing this. I don't know why haha

Klenteng Sin Tek Bio

After turning and tumbling at what seems like an endless rat route of shops and shops, we arrived in small Chinese temple or Klenteng. Sin Tek Bio is the name. Apparently, it was built by the farmers of the field rice to bless their harvest. Today, it sits just behind the tall buildings of shopping store that Pasar Baru have become.

In it was rows and rows of candles, small and big ones. Along with some statues. Back then when Indonesia only acknowledge five religions, some klenteng would put a big Buddha statue inside, as its the closest religion to confucianism. And such practice still seen to today. A really nice Gege gave me a handbook about the place's history. So sad to read that this place gotten so forgotten and hidden behind tall buildings.

Pniel Church

We went out and head over to Pniel Church which just few walks away from the klenteng. This church was the second location because the original small church (located behind the church today) which was built around 1913-1915 was burned in a fire. But they kept the original design and details. This was the to-go church for Dutch people who resided in Jakarta back then. The church also known as Rooster Church. I forgot why this church took rooster as their symbol, as seen on the stained glasses (too tall to take photos of) and the wind compass on top of the building. Too tired.

This church also kept a century old bible gifted by the Dutch governor and signed by the Queen of Dutch herself back in the day, Sophia Frederika Mathilda.

Ended the tour with a bowl of Bakmi Gg. Kelinci. All for myself. That's how my cherry popped.

At the end of the tour, I realized we are all the same. Everyone of every faith is just the same. That every religions' core is nothing but love and harmony. Within yourself, within others, within a greater good. And this tour solidified everything I've learned and raised with. It was amazing. In the midst of political turmoil that dragged religions and ethnicities today, maybe all you need is a trip to this area. Where various temples and mosques and churches stood side by side in peace and respect, humming their respective prayers.

This walking tour is created by Jakarta Good Guide in collaboration with Seratus Persen Manusia. For tour schedules and routes please refer to their website and twitter. Don't forget to check out their instagram!

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