The Jakarta Post
Performers getting ready for Bantengan Nusantara Parade in Batu, East Java. (JP/Aman Rochman)
Aroma of incense wafted through the streets of Batu, when groups of people who came in trucks made a beeline for the venue of Bantengan Nusantara Parade in Brantas Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 5. Returning for the 10th time, the parade welcomes Indonesia’s upcoming 73rd Independence Day.
Around 60 Bantengan troupes hailing from greater Malang area joined the parade. Apart from Malang, East Javanese regencies that still maintain the Bantengan tradition also include Probolinggo, Pasuruan, Lumajang, Blitar and Mojokerto.
Bantengan, deriving from the word banteng, which means bull, is a form of performance art combining dance theater, supernatural martial arts, music and verses. The performers, clad in bull costumes, may go into a trance, especially those who are positioned at the head of the bull. When the trance happens, it is believed that the performers are possessed by the spirit of the bulls’ ancestor named Dhayangan.
Mayor of Batu, Dewanti Rumpoko, said the parade aimed to motivate local artists to maintain their cultural heritage. She is hoping that the event could be held on a larger scale in the future.
A Bantengan figure is carried by two people, one at the head and the other near the tail. They dance and lash a large whip to tease and summon the spirit of the bull.
During the parade, the bulls zigzag to the right and left, following the sound of the gamelan with the guidance of a bull tamer. This attraction will last during the 5-kilometer path to Among Tani hall, where the Bantengan Nusantara parade ends.
Props and costumes for Bantengan performance. (JP/Aman Rochman)
Coach of Sekar Kombang Bantengan art group Darus Mahadi, 57, said they participated upon an invitation from the local government. The group came with 20 performers out of the 50-member group.
Darus, a senior Bantengan artist, said the troupe could be commissioned to perform with a fee starting from Rp 5 million (US$345). Along with Bantengan performance, the group usually stages pencak silat martial arts, Jaranan (toy horse) and Reog dances.
“Becoming a Bantengan artist is more like a calling than a profession. We do other jobs such as driving trucks for a living. How much we charge for this parade is not as much as the fee for private events, but we happily receive it as a token of good intention,” said Darus. (mut)