Sacred buffaloes go on
strike at Solo Palace

The much awaited traditional Javanese New Year street celebrations, which coincided with the Islamic New Year, had to be delayed for more than an hour because the palace’s revered pet buffaloes briefly went on strike.

The kingdom of Solo, as Surakarta — one of the Javanese cultural bastions — is better known, has nine albino buffaloes affectionately called kebo bule (pale buffaloes).

Traditionally seen as sacred, the animals are a key element in traditional ceremonies such as New Year celebrations.

On Thursday’s New Year’s Eve, the referred buffaloes and their handlers were supposed to lead the ritual parade involving thousands of people marching around the vast palace complex. But to everyone’s amazement, the animals refused to stand up and walk.

It took the handlers more than an hour to persuade the buffaloes to get going, detik.com reported.

The unusual incident followed a heated debate between King Paku Buwono XIII and other royal family members on whether they would hold the regular cultural parade this year while the palace was cash-strapped and embarrassed by an open internal conflict.

Initially, Paku Buwono was reluctant to lead the highly popular revelry. This event is always especially anticipated by believers of Javanese mysticism. Only after an intense debate did he eventually agree to go. — JP

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