The Jakarta Post
Jakarta is set to become an ocean of batik this Friday, with the city administration officially calling upon all residents to wear batik in recognition of UNESCO's decision to add the traditional dyeing technique to its list of elements of intangible cultural heritage.
The administration sent a formal request to all government offices and private companies in the city to ask their employees to wear batik on Oct. 2, the date when UNESCO will officially announce the listing, deputy governor for culture and tourism affairs, Aurora Frida Tambunan, said Monday.
"We hope this will inspire many city residents to join in and show their support for the listing," she told reporters.
Aurora said she also expected to see many students and those working in service and tourism sectors wearing batik.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also asked Indonesians to wear batik on Friday.
The listing, which will give the age-old tradition of batik technology some degree of protection under a UNESCO charter, will be made official at an event in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, between Sep. 28 and Oct. 2.
To celebrate the listing, the Jakarta Culture and Tourism Agency has also arranged a number of special offers for city residents.
Head of the agency, Arie Budhiman, said all residents could enter any city-run museums between Oct. 3 and Oct. 7 free of charge, provided they were wearing batik outfits.
"This is our way of appreciating them," Arie said.
Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta is also ready to give free admission to visitors wearing batik on Oct. 5.
Meanwhile, Ancol recreational complex in North Jakarta will give visitors wearing batik a 40 or 50 percent discount on admission to selected facilities.
The government's call to wear batik has gained significant support from the Internet community and business people.
As of Monday evening, for example, more than 3,000 people had joined a Facebook group "Mari Bersama Pakai Batik Tgl. 2 Okt 2009" (Let's wear batik on Oct. 2, 2009).
Indonesian Shopping Center Association chairman Stefanus Ridwan welcomed the call and said he would forward it on to members so they could ask their employees and tenants to wear batik on Friday.
Batik is a wax-resistant dyeing technique used on textiles.
Due to modern advances in the textile industry, the term "batik" is also used to refer to fabrics incorporating traditional batik patterns that are not necessarily produced using traditional batik techniques.
Historically, Indonesians, wore batik on formal occasions.
Nowadays batik has become increasingly popular even among younger generations, with batik factories producing more wearer-friendly and fashionable batik clothing.
In Indonesia, batik is said to have originated from Javanese courts, but several other regions have their own styles of batik.
Batik is widely worn in neighboring countries Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand and has also been discovered in archeological remains from ancient Egypt dating back to the fourth century BCE.