Kebo Ketan festival in Ngawi, East Java, has not only been a spectacle but also is “a happening art event with an impact”. Organized by artist Bramantyo Prijosusilo and Sekarputih residents in Widodaren district in Ngawi, Kebo Ketan was a festival in December that addressed environmental problems in the area.
Hundreds of artists carried a giant buffalo, with a head from plastic fiber and body frame made of bamboo, covered with sticky rice.
The festival presented performing groups from other places in Java like Barong Abang from Tanggulangin in Sidoarjo and Dongkrek from Madiun, both in East Java. From Yogyakarta, the Bregada Niti Manggala group also performed in the festival.
Kebo means buffalo while ketan means sticky rice.
Thousands of people watched the procession along the road.
Bramantyo said Kebo Ketan offered an ethical and aesthetic experience to the people as it conveyed an environmental message through culture and art happening.
The event is expected to build stronger cohesion between the people in guarding their local water sources. Widodaren has two springs, Margo and Ngiyom, whose existence had become threatened following deforestation of the Begal forest.
“Following a suggestion from Habib Lutfi Yahya, Kebo Ketan happening art is held as part of celebrations of the Prophet Muhammad’s birth. We plan to hold it annually,” Bramantyo said.
Habib Luthfi is a prominent religious figure in Java.
The happening art event also presented renowned artists like Suprapto Suryodarmo and Sawung Jabo & Sirkus Barock.