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Fest celebrates legacy
of ancient kingdoms

Sacred resistance: Members of Bissu, an ancient community of transgender priests of pre-Islamic, Bugis religion in South Sulawesi, perform the Mabissu sacred dance on Saturday in which they showcase their resistance to sharp weapons like kris. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)
Sacred resistance: Members of Bissu, an ancient community of transgender priests of pre-Islamic, Bugis religion in South Sulawesi, perform the Mabissu sacred dance on Saturday in which they showcase their resistance to sharp weapons like kris. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

Nefra, 31, visiting Jakarta for the first time, did not expect to see and touch royal carriages in the center of the city.

“It is amazing that I can touch various old royal carriages, not at museums or palaces, but at a place with many modern buildings,” he said at the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta on Saturday during the first World Royal Heritage festival.

Nefra, who is from Padang in West Sumatra, acknowledged he had not planned to visit the festival but was accompanying his son, niece and sister-in-law, to visit Monas.

“For us, it is a blessing in disguise. We’re getting more than we expected,” he said, adding that his 9-year-old son was very excited to take pictures of all 30 carriages displayed and the several men modeling as palace guards in the festival.

The festival, which lasts until Sunday, showcases 165 royal houses or kraton from across the country and 10 foreign houses, including from Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

It also exhibits various cultural performances, such as dances and traditional instrumental performances, from the Siak Sri Indrapura Kingdom of Riau, the Bangkalan Kingdom of East Java’s Madura, the Gunung Tabur Sultanate of East Kalimantan and many others.

Hundreds of kris (traditional daggers) from different kingdoms and sultanates across the country were exhibited at the auditorium inside the Monas building.

In addition to the items and performances, the festival has magically turned Monas into a stylized medieval kingdom. Monas’ main entrance gate has been fashioned into one from a Javanese palace, while dozens of royal-styled gazebos with false plants have been temporarily installed.

Meliyantina, 21, a student from a private university in Jakarta, said that she was happy that the city administration held the festival because it was the first time ever in the city.

She said, however, that the festival was not what she expected. She thought that she would see many cultural items, not only from palaces across Indonesia but also from other countries’ palaces.

“All the royal carriages showcased are only those from Surakarta and Yogyakarta,” she said, adding that the festival was just like any other entertainment festival.

She said not enough information was provided about the carriages and kris.

“There are only names and origins for the carriages and kris, without explanation on what they were usually used for, or whether they were still currently used,” she said.

Meli said that she was also disappointed because the culinary festival turned out to be very common and ordinary. “I imagined that there would be many stalls selling traditional foods from across the country, but what I have found are stalls selling sausages and burgers,” she said.

She expected that the festival would be much more crowded and extraordinary on Sunday as there would be a cultural carnival from many palaces across the country. (koi)

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