By Devi Asmarani
BANDA ACEH, Indonesia, 26 December 2014 - Thousands of people gathered in Aceh today in a solemn and moving ceremony to remember the Indian Ocean tsunami that devastated much of Indonesia’s westernmost province 10 years ago today.
Many survivors as well as local and foreign dignitaries attending the ceremony at the Blang Padang public park in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh burst into tears as they listened to poems and songs that were performed accompanied by photos and videos of the disaster.
Acehnese singer Rafly led the audience to sing along with him to a haunting folk song in the local dialect, and prominent poet Taufik Ismail read a poem that recalled the giant waves that swept about 170,000 people to their death.
"Thousands of corpses were sprawled in this field,” said Vice President Jusuf Kalla at the ceremony. “There were feelings of confusion, shock, sorrow, fear and suffering. We prayed.”
But he said the massive help received for Aceh immediately after the tsunami, which left nearly half a million people displaced, helped revive the spirit of the survivors.