Bakar Tongkang Festival 2018 in Bagansiapi-api Riau

28 June 2018

Believed to have originated in 1826, the festival is rooted in history when Chinese immigrants first set foot in the area and later gave the name to the land as what is known now as Bagansiapi-api. It is believed that the ancestors of Bagansiapi-api were Tang-lang people of Hokkien descent who originated from the Tong'an District (Tang Ua) in Xiamen, Fujian Province, in South China who left their homeland in ships that had a flat base which were used to transport sand and mined minerals and came to be known today as 'tongkang'. Initially, there were 3 tongkang ships in the expedition, however only one ship reached the coast of Sumatra. Led by Ang Mie Kui, the ship managed to arrive on the shore of Riau as it followed the flickering lights of fireflies which are locally known as 'siapi-api'. Arriving in an uninhabited land which consists of swamps, forests, and grassland, they decided to settle here, eventually giving it the name Bagansiapi-api or "Land of the Fireflies". Pledging to never return to their homeland, these migrants burned the tongkang and thus became the ancestors of the Chinese ethnic group in the area.

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