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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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Lebaran Betawi: An event to maintain bonds and traditions

  • Irawaty Wardany

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sun, August 23, 2015 | 08:56 am
Lebaran Betawi: An event to maintain bonds and traditions Manual labor: A man leaps in the air to swing an attraction at the Lebaran Betawi Festival in Lapangan Banteng square in Central Jakarta on Saturday. The eighth Lebaran Betawi Festival ends on Sunday.(JP/Seto Wardhana) (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Manual labor: A man leaps in the air to swing an attraction at the Lebaran Betawi Festival in Lapangan Banteng square in Central Jakarta on Saturday. The eighth Lebaran Betawi Festival ends on Sunday.(JP/Seto Wardhana)

Hundreds of Jakartans were seen flocking to Lapangan Banteng, a venue where the 8th Lebaran Betawi event was held from Aug. 22 to 23. Jakarta'€™s five municipalities and one regency set up temporary Betawi traditional houses at the venue while their respective districts'€™ booths were lined up at the right and left sides of the houses, with ondel-ondel (giant Betawi effigies) standing at the entrance of their compound.

Each booth and house was attended by their respective officials, who wore traditional Betawi attire kebaya encim (traditional Betawi attire for women), sarongs and baju koko (men'€™s long-sleeve collarless shirts) with a sarong around their neck as well.

It is open to any visitors who wants to enjoy traditional delicacies such as nasi ulam (steamed rice mixed with various herbs) or soto Betawi (coconut milk soup with beef) and cakes such as wajik (sweet and sticky rice), dodol Betawi (sweet and sticky cakes) or kue pepe (traditional rainbow cake) for free.

The atmosphere is just like Lebaran where every family holds an open-house to welcome their extended family members to maintain the silaturahmi (bonds) between them.

'€œThis is my first time coming to this event, and I am Betawi. Maybe it is because the event is lacking promotion,'€ said Risma, a resident of Ragunan, South Jakarta, on Saturday.

Meanwhile Syarif Hidayat, a Kebayoran Baru resident who had been a regular at the event said that the event was merrier and bigger when it was held at the National Monument (Monas) square last year.

'€œI asked my neighbors who are mostly Betawi to come to this event together but they refused saying that it would be hot and the location was too far,'€ said the man who originated from Kuningan, West Java.

He added that it was regretful seeing that even Betawi people were reluctant to attend a Betawi cultural festival like Lebaran Betawi. '€œTo preserve Betawi culture, there must be awareness from Betawi people. If it'€™s not coming from them, who else,'€ he said.

There was also a display of presents locally known as Antaran. In many traditions, Antaran is only for future brides as part of a wedding proposal gift. But in Betawi culture such presents could also be presented to neighbors, elders or respected people.

It is usually done in Ramadhan. But for Saturday'€™s event, dozens of Betawi organizations delivered the presents to leaders of the Betawi Consultative Body (Bamus), which organized the event in cooperation with the Jakarta administration.

'€œI hope that with the approval of the regional bylaw on Betawi cultural preservation, future events will be better quality,'€ said the head of the organizing committee, Syarief Hidayatullah.

The Jakarta Regional Council and the city administration approved on Thursday the Betawi culture preservation bylaw, which mandates that the administration carry out programs such as developing a Betawi museum and cultural center and making a record of Betawi history, culture and language.

The bylaw also obliged the city administration to establish a 20-year plan to preserve the fading Betawi culture, which includes policies, targets and strategies to protect the culture as well as cooperation with residents who are expected to participate by providing input.

According to Syarief, the administration could require hotels, restaurants and governmental offices to display Betawi ornaments, souvenirs or to wear traditional Betawi attire. All these things and more would make people more familiar with the Betawi culture, the original culture of Jakarta.

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