The once-forbidden Chinese New Year in Indonesia is now mainly celebrated publicly in the Chinese temples. The Chinese-minority overcrowd the temples to pray to the gods and ancestors. The Chinese believe, sharing some of the fortune in the auspicious day will bring a prosperous New Year and good luck. But this belief attracts thousands of beggars outside the temple, sitting day and night waiting for the Chinese to disperse “red paper money” after the rituals. Many of the beggars come far away from outside Jakarta, bringing along their children and babies. The money dispersed is not so much, often only 2.000-rupiah bills (about 15 US cents) for each of the people. But seeing the crowds struggling and cursing and screaming and crying and begging for the very little money is the most heartbreaking for me. Poverty is humiliating, but this is the reality in this country, where the very-rich and very-poor live side by side.
Jakarta, Indonesia, 2014