The Jakarta Post
The people of Nagekeo district in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), celebrated last Thursday the inauguration of Regent Johanes Don Bosco Do and Deputy Regent Marianus Waja, who had been sworn into office by NTT Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat on Dec. 23.
But something was noticeably different at the celebration. Instead of using regular plates to serve various culinary offerings, the people of Nagekeo used plates made from dried palm leaves.
Called wati, these plates are traditionally used to hold cooked foods such as rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables, as well as beef and pork dishes in various ceremonies and celebrations, such as weddings and cultural rituals.
With their inauguration ceremony, Johanes and Marianus took the opportunity to officially launch a program that aims to revive traditional, environmentally friendly products. Residents wove 10,000 wati for the event, using 10,000 banana leaves as lining. They also created 10,000 glasses out of bamboo.
In recent years, the people of Nagekeo slowly shifted from wati plates to more modern plates sold in markets or sellers who come to villages. Wishing to revive the tradition, the regent said that wati plates would be routinely used in public fairs.
“We must rekindle the confidence of Nagekeo’s residents to cultivate the eco-friendly plates,” he added.
Ende Bishop Mgr. Vincensius Potokotta told The Jakarta Post that the Catholic Church supported the regent’s movement.
“It will do wonders for our local craftspeople and empower residents,” he said. “I was touched when I received gifts from the women of Nagekeo; the wati plates and bamboo glasses they made themselves.”
Anwar Pua Geno, head of the East Nusa Tenggara Legislative Council, said it was his first time using wati plates and bamboo glasses.
“I highly appreciate this movement,” he said. “All local government agencies and officials must join Nagekeo residents in supporting the regent’s program.”
Meanwhile, Nagekeo resident Yosefina Muda told the Post that the program had already benefited those who had the skill to produce the environmentally friendly plates and glasses.
“In a short amount of time, from when the new regent and deputy regent were officiated to the celebration day, we involved all women in the area to weave the plates and glasses. The people of Nagekeo were impassioned by the program,” she said. (wng)