Hotli Simanjuntak, Banda Aceh – Hundreds of Aceh residents flocked to the Siron mass grave in Lambaro, Aceh Besar, to pay respect to victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that shattered the province and led to the death of over 150,000 people in the province alone.
"It's been 14 years already," a resident, Amiruddin said on Wednesday, pointing out that his family visited the mass grave every year.
Amiruddin lost his wife and other relatives in the tsunami. They were living in Ule Lhuee, which was hit the hardest. He and his child were safe because they were away in the morning.
Aside from Amiruddin, dozens of people from minority groups, including the ethnic Chinese and Buddhist communities, also joined the mass prayers.
"We pray for those who departed and for us who survived so we can move on and continue living," Dewina of the Darma Bakti Vihara said.
Simbolon, a Christian from Banda Aceh, shared the sentiment, saying that people died in the tsunami regardless of their religion.
"In the first few years, many found it rather odd that people of different religious background prayed together on the same occasion [...] but the occasion has transformed into one of the most tolerant events in Aceh," he said.
To commemorate the disaster, Aceh fishermen were not allowed to sail on the day and those who insist are subject to traditional sanction, including a ban from fishing for a few days. The rule was introduced given that many fishermen and their families died on Dec. 26, 2014.
"Panglima Laot across Aceh has agreed that Dec. 26 is a no-sea day," Aceh Panglima Laot deputy secretary-general Miftach Cut said. Panglima Laot is the leader of the local traditional sea community. (swd)