Indonesia’s Rich Culture is the Country’s Charm

Penulis: Ghani Nurcahyadi - 07 December 2018, 07:05 WIB
ANTARA/Ahmad Subaidi
 ANTARA/Ahmad Subaidi

INDONESIA has an exceptional tourism potential and can be developed into a valuable economic source. Among the country’s charms is the cultural diversity with unique local wisdom in each area. The diversity is undeniably inviting for tourists to enjoy and experience the sensation and beauty themselves. Indonesia has various world-class tourist destinations across the country.

The government has set a national tourism development target to make Indonesia a world-class tourism destination, as well as competitive, sustainable, and able to push local development and people’s welfare. It is feasible to boost the tourism sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since many areas are waiting to be developed. Indonesia has many options to increase income from tourism from its nature, cultural diversity and people’s hospitality, as well as sports tourism and integrated tourist areas.

Through a serious exploration of Indonesia’s new potential tourism destinations, good branding and strong promotion, the tourism sector could become one of the most significant contributors to the country’s GDP. One of the government’s ten priority destinations is Banyuwangi, a city in East Java. Banyuwangi is rich in culture as it is unique.

Angklung caruk
Indonesia’s angklung a bamboo musical instrument might have achieved worldwide fame. However, only in Banyuwangi the angklung caruk can be found. The word caruk comes from Banyuwangi, which means a meeting. And angklung caruk means a meeting of two groups where they compete in playing angklung. In an angklung caruk event, usually, there are three groups of spectators.

One group is the supporter of the first group, and another supports the second group. The third group is neutral viewers. An angklung group consists of 12 to 14 players. In Banyuwangi, they have four types of angklung performances: angklung caruk, angklung tetak, angklung paglak, and angklung Blambangan. Another native Banyuwangi attraction is kebo-keboan ritual (kebo means water buffalo). It is initially an Osing tribe’s tradition.

The Osing community spreads mostly on the easternmost part of East Java. The ritual is held to ask God for a good harvest and for the area to be kept away from disasters. The performers are local male fellows dress up as buffaloes smearing their entire bodies with charcoal and wearing buffalo horns (usually made of wood).

The use of the horns is to signify the relationship between humans and buffalos on the field: coworkers. The kebo-keboan ritual is divided into several stages. Usually, seven days before D day, a local pawang (shaman) would meditate in several places considered sacred to ensure the success of the ritual. Banyuwangi also has barong kemiren a dance that uses barong (a mask and accessories that usually resemble wild animals).

Osing tribe views the ritual to be very sacred because it is connected to the buyut cilik (great-grandfather) who is believed by local people to be the forerunner of the village. At certain times, people hold ceremonies for the barong. They also give offerings and carefully care for the barong.

Before they can begin the performance usually for a family’s special occasions a spiritual man and a representative from the family would do a specific ritual first. The peak of the performance happens in the evening, from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next day--after one of the performers is possessed.

Putri Mandalika or Mandalika Princess is a famous legend in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. Princess Mandalika was the daughter of King Tonjang Beru and Dewi (goddess) Seranting who ruled in one of Lombok areas. The king was famous for his wisdom, and people loved him and his family.

The area has nyale or sea worms that is believed to be the incarnation of the beautiful princess that was muchly loved by the Sasak people. Back in the heydays of Lombok’s kings and queens, there lived Princess Mandalika. She got so many marriage proposals from princes, a competition was inevitable and chaos eventually happened on the island.

Seeing the turmoil, Princess Mandalika becomes saddened and wanted peace to return to her homeland. In her desperate effort to put an end to the uproar, the princess jumped and threw herself into the sea. The tale says that her people tried to search and rescue her. However, instead of retrieving her body, they just found nyale or sea worms.

That is why local people believe that nyale is the incarnation of the princess. One of Lombok’s artworks is gendang beleq of Sasak tribe. Gendang beleq means a big drum. The orchestra consists of two gendang  beleq, they are called gendang mama (male) and gendang nina (female). Gendang beleq was believed to be played for parties at the palace. In the war times, gendang beleq served as a war commander and copek as the soldier.

Gendang beleq can be played while seated or walking. However, they have different compositions--seated position have rules while the walking does not. If the king went to the battle, the payung agung (majestic umbrella) would be used. The umbrella is now used for wedding ceremonies. (S-4)