Mahacetya Dhanagun Monastery - Vihara Dhanagun

Honestly, the monastery was almost escaped from my attention last Saturday. On the day, my target was not this monastery but the area next to it, "Pasar Bogor" or "Bogor market". 

It becomes a habit for me every Saturday after riding my son to his school to travel a bit around Bogor to find ideas for my writing. Last Saturday, I intended to visit Suryakencana street to see what can be written from Pasar Bogor and Suryakencana Street, the Chinatown of Bogor. I completely forgot that the monastery was there. I should not have forgotten because this was something that could not be separated if you wanted to make a story about the street (as well as Bogor).

It is lucky for me that after parking my motorcycle, I walked out the Pasar Bogor area for a while to take pictures of the street. My eyes were immediately glued to a figure next to the wall of the Bogor Plaza. It was a red gate with some Chinese characters on it. I don't speak nor write Chinese but I knew the words written in Chinese letters meaning "Vihara Dhanagun" (because the name were also written in Indonesia.. :D ). Well, actually I may be wrong or right about this because the original name of the monastery is Hok Tek Bio , perhaps the Chinese characters more likely says "Hok Tek Bio"

The name of the monastery is Mahacetya Dhanagun. It is , in Indonesian called as Vihara or Klenteng Dhanagun. For your information, the word Klenteng will never be found in another language. It is known only in Indonesian. The word actually refers to the sound of a bell (i.e. Teng... Teng.. Teng) that a monastery usually have. It is located next right at the corner of a junction between Otto Iskandar Dinata and Suryakencana Street. Its formal address is Suryakencana Street no 1

It is said to be built around 330 years ago around 1672 but some others say it should be younger than that. Based on history once, there was an exodus of Chinese people from Batavia (nowadays Jakarta). There was once Chinese people rebellion which resulted on the Dutch Colonial Government chased and hunted Chinese people Eventually the people were forced to move out from Batavia to surrounding areas and Bogor was the destination. If it is based on this, the monastery should be younger than 330 years because the uprising happened on 1740.

I really don't mind about the age of this monastery. It doesn't wipe out  attractiveness of the monastery. It also shows that long time ago, that Bogor has been affected by another culture beside the dominant Sundanese culture.

I was quite amazed with the wall carvings on two sides of the monastery's walls. The one on the left side wall , I recognized showing the legend of Sun Go Kong (Sun Wukong) . The carving shows Sun Wukong accompanied by the Pig Face Pat-kai, his brother Wu-Ching and the Great Teacher (for the three) Tong. The other wall contain another story which is about the legend of Eight Great Gods, the legend which is considered to come from Tang Dynasty in China. Both carvings should have been done by a very good carver considering its fineness and also the good coloring of each creature. 

Besides the carvings , I was also greeted by two Guardian Lion Statue in front of the entry of the monastery. Several steps from the lions,some more ornaments were shown such as the dragons) coiled around a pole or a stern face of the Guardian God. It made some goosebumps for me , perhaps because I was never quite close to a Vihara before. Usually I only saw it from a distance.

Finally, I decided not to go further than the entry door. It was not because I was too scared to do so (Don't be silly) but because there was nobody there. Even though the door was ajar but I didn't see anyone there, so I decided to just sit on the cement chair under bamboo trees. It was enjoyable. I felt quietness on the place (even though the area next door was a noisy and crowded market).

During of which, I could only be grateful that Indonesia once had Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) as our president. He might be a controversial figure for his own people, me included. However among all controvercies he made during his time as our president, he released a policy to remove a discriminative policy on Chinese ethnics in Indonesia, the discrimination that had happened since 1965 after the Communist Party of Indonesia rebellion. The policy that had curbed Chinese people in Indonesia from showing nor doing their culture and belief was cancelled at his time.

Since Gus Dur's decision taken place, Bogor has been enriched by another culture. A culture that was also contributed to form Bogor as we have now. Bogor citizens , since then can enjoy Barongsay performance every year. This monastery is a center of attraction every Chinese/Lunar New Year in Bogor. They perform the Liong (Dragon) and the Lion Dancer around this monastery and street. It can be enjoyed by all Bogor Citizens. 

Eventually after several moments enjoying the quiteness and uniqueness of the monastery, I left the place. I had to go to the place next to this monastery. The one which has an opposite characteristic from what I had just enjoyed in this Klenteng, i.e. Pasar Bogor or Bogor Market. Do you want to read also my adventure to this , well, give me time to write it. Meantime please enjoy this story first

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About Anton Ardyanto

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