Hundreds of primary school and junior high school students gathered around Badut Temple in Karangwidoro village, Malang, East Java.
They engaged in group activities in which they danced, made handicrafts, played traditional games, read storybooks and drew on the morning of Nov. 19.
The activities were held under the theme “Fostering Indonesian Culture from Childhood” as part of cultural education event Ajar Pusaka Budaya, held to mark United Nations Universal Children’s Day on Nov. 20.
Ten students sat around Samsul Subari, whom they referred to as Mbah Karjo, splitting banana leaves into several pieces as they learned the skill of weaving.
“Long braids can be worn as bracelets, bandanas and belts. Necklaces are plaited from cassava leaves and toy horses crafted from mid-ribs of banana leaves. Urban children who can’t find natural materials can use recycled plastic pieces,” said Mbah Karjo, a wayang suket (grass shadow puppet) artist.
One of the students, 8-year-old Candika Selfia, said she was happy to meet new friends to play dakon (traditional game using hollowed board and shells or beads) and braid leaves into hats and necklaces, a new skill the children learned as a result of the event.
The students took home their unfinished craftwork, which they would later complete at home without fear of using sharp utensils, having learned how to safely handle them.
The perceived loss of creativity and solidarity as well as individualistic tendencies among today’s children had prompted communities in Malang focused on history, literacy and arts and culture to organize the event.
Volunteers worked according to their respective communities’ missions. Books and children’s stories were presented, dancers taught the children traditional routines, historians talked about Badut Temple and explained the meanings behind its reliefs and storytellers drew parallels between traditional tales and modern-day life.
“This brief program did not immediately change the character of children, but it at least gave them some knowledge on how it feels to play with friends together,” Isa Wahyu, a volunteer and child psychologist, said.