The Jakarta Post
The Independence Day on Aug. 17 this year was commemorated in different ways across the archipelago, ranging from cultural performances, mountain climbing and cultural carnivals.
In Jayapura, Papua, the Tolai dance that originated from the Western Guinea province in Papua New Guinea (PNG) was presented during the 68th Independence Day celebration, which was organized by the local city administration in Skouw Wutung on the border of RI-PNG.
In the performance, which resembles debus (Banten traditional martial arts), the dancers whipped one another, but they remained impervious to pain. The dance was performed by dozens of male performers including kids.
Indonesian Consulate General in Vanimo Jahar Gultom said that the dance group was invited to help increase the good relations between the two countries. The Independence Day celebration in Skouw Wutung was the first so far since Papua integrated with Indonesia.
'We choose the place to show to the world that the RI-PNG border in Skouw Wutung is peaceful and the interaction between the people is also good,' Jayapura Mayor Benhur Tomy Mano said.
Meanwhile in Pantonlabu, North Aceh, the national red-and-white flags stood side by side with crescent moon and star flags dubbed to be Aceh's provincial flag, while in some regions, officials and police were seen distributing free red-and-white flags to residents, Tribunnews.com reported.
The central government and the Aceh administration has been involved in an Aceh flag debate for some time. The government rejected the flag as it violated a government regulation, while the Aceh administration said the flag was a symbol of the struggles of Acehnese.
Meanwhile in South Sulawesi, 68 divers, consisting of police officers, military personnel, members of Search and Rescue (SAR) and government officials, held a 50-minute underwater ceremony in Selayar Islands regency.
Selayar Islands Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Mohamad Hidayat said that such a unique ceremony was aimed at raising people's awareness to stop the illegal fishing activities to protect marine diversity of the Taka Bonerate underwater national park.
A sea-themed ceremony was also held in Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, where some 70 members of SAR team, Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and nature lovers' clubs celebrated Independence Day by holding a ceremony in the middle of the sea.
They swam for about 500 meters from the beach to carry out a 30-minute ceremony. 'We do this as a way of raising our love for the marine,' coordinator of Gunungkidul Sea SAR team, Marjono, said.
Also in Yogyakarta, people commemorated Independence Day by staying awake until late at night to pray together for the unity of the country and for better tolerance among people of different backgrounds.
In Sewon Indah residential complex, for example, the gathering ' locally known as tirakatan ' was held at the hall of the local mosque. 'Through the tirakatan, hopefully the unity and mutual cooperation will become stronger for the development of the nation,' local neighboring unit head Andang said.
A number of farmers in the province joined a ceremony by wearing their respective working costumes along with their agricultural equipments. 'This is our way of expressing hope that our leaders should not just think of making themselves richer, but also think of the fate of their people, especially farmers,' Sarwono, a participant, said.
In Surakarta, Central Java, some 2,000 participants joined a cultural parade, which took the route along the city's main street. The carnival was also enlivened with the drum band performance by 367 personnel of the Police Academy and the reog mask dance.
In Purbalingga, Central Java, some 350 climbers from different cities across Indonesia celebrated Independence Day by climbing the 3,428-meter high Mount Slamet.
Meanwhile, residents in Gendang Kuwu in Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara, chose to dress in their traditional songket clothes while taking part in the Independence Day ceremony.
Slamet Susanto, Kusumasari Ayuningtyas, Agus Maryono and Markus Makur contributed to the story from Yogyakarta, Surakarta, Purbalingga and Manggarai
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