Rituals, celebration readied for total solar eclipse

Excitement is evident across Indonesia as the archipelago gets set to witness the first total solar eclipse in the 21st century on Wednesday.

People will participate in festivals, parties and eclipse prayers to observe the phenomenon that will temporarily turn day into night, despite a forecast of cloudy skies from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

Some 10,000 students and tens of thousands of others in Makassar, South Sulawesi, are expected to join in a festival during which astronomers from the BMKG will provide a live, running explanation of the eclipse.

The festival, themed Battu ratema ri bulan (I am from the Moon), will also include an Islamic eclipse mass prayer and dance performances.

“The solar eclipse in Makassar is only partial, at 88.54 percent, but the students can still enjoy it together while learning more about that rare celestial sight,” Makassar Mayor Mohammad Ramdhan Pomanto said, adding that his administration would provide two digital telescopes for people to monitor the eclipse with.

In Medan, North Sumatra, where the solar eclipse is also partial, the Tamil community will participate in the eclipse celebration with a meditation ritual.

“The peak of the ritual will take place on Wednesday morning during the total solar eclipse, during which all Tamil people will worship the Sun God,” Dewadas, a leader of the community, told The Jakarta Post.

And as the occurrence will fall on the same day as the Hindu Day of Silence, known locally as Nyepi, Parisada Hindu Council Bali chapter chairman IGN Sudiana has said that the council would permit Muslims who wanted to perform an eclipse prayer during Nyepi to do so, but still banned the use of loud speakers.

People will also flock to West Java’s Bosscha observatory as the management there will provide three telescopes and 100 special pairs of glasses for people to view the eclipse safely.

“People are welcome to come to the facility to observe the solar eclipse. They don’t need to register, and everything is free of charge,” the observatory’s Evan Irawan said.

If the weather was bright, he said, people could start observing the eclipse from 6:20 a.m. when the sun was still at six degrees from the horizon. “At its peak, the eclipse will be 88 percent [of a total eclipse] seen from Bandung,” he said.

Thousands of foreign tourists have also started to flock to areas where the total solar eclipse will be visible, such as Pagai Island in Mentawai Islands and Sigi regency in Central Sulawesi where around 3,000 foreign visitors, most of whom are scientists and solar eclipse hunters, are ready to closely observe the rare phenomenon.

The solar eclipse will sweep across 12 provinces in Indonesia but the total version will only be visible in seven provinces: West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Bangka Belitung, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi and North Maluku.

Source : The Jakarta Post

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