In a practice that began as a habit among farmers of Probolinggo in East Java to make use of their watered lands prior to the arrival of the planting season, some farmers who were about to plow their paddy fields would entertain themselves and others with karapan sapi (bull races) across the brujul (paddy field).
No-one knows exactly when this tradition emerged, but many say it dates back several generations.
As the administration of Probolinggo city strives to develop its tourism industry beyond promoting the beauty of Mount Bromo, it tries to highlight local tradition and culture, including karapan sapi brujul.
Its effort has paid off, as the Probolinggo Cultural and Tourism Agency has received a patent from the Education and Culture Ministry and its tradition of charging across the wet fields with bulls was recognized as intangible cultural heritage.
This year's event was inaugurated by Probolinggo Mayor Hadi Zainal Abidin, who said he expected the public to help preserve the local tradition.
"The patent now belongs to Probolinggo city. Let's preserve this together, let’s not have it turn into something negative. Let's maintain it well," said Hadi in his speech during the opening of Karapan Sapi Brujul at Jl. KH Syafi'i in Jrebeng Kidul subdistrict, Wonoasih district, on Saturday, Sept. 7.
The race, held on a muddy rice field measuring 175 meters in length and 35 meters in width, was also joined by participants from other cities, including Jember and Pasuruan.
Up to 50 racers, each drawn by two bulls, participated in the competition. The prizes were said to be insignificant, as the event about social bonding rather than a competitive spirit. [kes]