Celebratory spirit rules the day
A celebratory spirit engulfed the resort island Friday as residents — Indonesian nationals and foreigners — enthusiastically participated in various events held to commemorate the nation’s 67th Independence Day.
The celebration started early in Sanur, when hundreds of children and youths marched Thursday night along the main streets of the usually quiet tourist area. Bearing burning bamboo torches, the participants walked behind an open jeep with loudspeakers blasting patriotic songs and messages.
Uniquely, the march also involved a troupe of barong bangkal, a boar-like effigy that usually appears in door-to-door performances made by children during the days after the Galungan religious festival.
The community celebration continued on Friday afternoon at Sindhu beach where Ellora Bali, the company that manages several establishments along the beach, organized a series of fun competitions traditionally associated with the Independence Day commemorations, including tug of war, pillow war and, the most hilarious of all, panjat pinang.
The latter refers to a competition where participants scale the trunk of an areca nut tree to get to various wrapped presents, from clothes to bicycles, hung on the top of the tree. One caveat though: The organizers had gone a long way to ensure that the trunk was fully coated with a thick layer of grease.
The hilarity of the competition did not escape the attention of the foreign visitors, who soon flocked to the site with cameras in their hands, ready to immortalize the hilarity as participants tried to outclass each other only to succumb to the slick power of the grease and the pull of gravity.
After 30 minutes of repeated failure, the participants called for reinforcements and a bamboo ladder was brought onto the site. Members of the committee and the spectators could only laugh at this desperate tactic.
The release of turtle hatchlings topped the celebrations.
Nearby, the Bali Hyatt Hotel management organized an equally hilarious set of competitions for the children of their patrons. The competitions included the classic “eel in the bottle”, during which participants tried to clock the fastest time in placing a live eel into a bottle.
The island’s bicycle communities celebrated Independence Day by organizing a special ride. Members of the Lelasan Berseri cycling community rode for around 70 kilometers from their Denpasar base to the hilly region of Kintamani, where they later partook in a flag-hoisting ceremony.
Members of Kebo, a community of vintage-bicycle enthusiasts, donned historical costumes, mostly from the War of Independence period, and pedaled around for the afternoon before joining a lively party night in south Denpasar. The party, held by the local banjar (traditional neighborhood organization), featured various traditional performing arts, including the popular Joged Bumbung.
On the official side, celebration and flag-hoisting ceremonies were organized by regional administrations, schools, military installations and government institutions across the island.
The provincial-level flag-hoisting ceremony took place in Puputan Margarana field in Renon, South Denpasar, and was led by Bali Deputy Governor AA Puspayoga as Governor Made Mangku Pastika is still recuperating from his recent heart surgery.
The ceremony attracted several foreign spectators, including Italian Paola Rognoni. She was quite surprised that common people were not allowed to enter the field where government officials, military and police personnel and civil servants participated in the ceremony.
“I thought it would be a crowded festivity, where everyone would also join the flag-raising ceremony,” she said.
On the not so official side, celebrations were also held in cyberspace as Indonesian youngsters posted the Red and White or pictures of Sukarno and Hatta, two beloved founding fathers, as their profile pictures on BlackBerry Messenger and Facebook.