Traditions & Culture

3 – Sembahyang Pocia

On the day when babies are exactly one month old, some Chinese Indonesians in the past mark this day with a special prayer ceremony to the guardian angel of the baby known as Pocia or Poca. A table is set in front of the bed where the baby sleeps with offerings of tea, fruits, cakes and rice shaped into a cone known as nasi tumpeng. This ceremony is also known as Sembahyang Ranjang.

Among the Hokkiens, it is customary to send to their friends and relatives gifts of red eggs (these are hard-boiled eggs with their shells painted red) and kue ku, a Chinese cake shaped like a tortoise with a sweet mung bean filling. These gifts symbolise blessings of good luck and longevity for the baby.

Some families like to throw a banquet to celebrate this event especially when the first-born is male; but most often, it is just an intimate family party to mark this special day. The hair of the baby is cut for the first time and the baby is dressed in new clothes.

This is also the day when the mother is reintroduced to the world, marking the end of her postnatal confinement, a period where the mother is put on a special diet and is freed from household and wifely duties. For some mothers, the confinement lasts longer – from 40 to 44 days following local customs

Christopher Ng, October 2014



  • Tan, G.L. (1963) The Chinese of Sukabumi: a study of social and cultural accommodation, New York: Monograph Series.
  • Vaughan, J.D. (1992) : The Manners and Customs of the Chinese, Singapore: Oxford University Press